Thursday, April 19, 2007

And You're a Microsoft Shareholder Because...?

Hello. Just a quick check-in for Mini-land. As I start writing this, I should be out soaking up the sun biking down some nice trail, but my knee started making those wet twig-snapping noises so here I am, side-lined and typing.

Quarterly financials are due in a week, and I'll probably skip a post on this one. Other places do a pretty good job of tracking the financial results. I am really curious, though, of all the people either holding or accumulating Microsoft stock: why? Why are you a Microsoft MSFT shareholder? What kind of metrics are you using to deciding to buy and/or hold? Sure, we all set alarms on stock when we buy it, but usually that does not include stagnation. Rick Sherlund gets off the Microsoft beat and the next thing you know we're getting bounced around.

This past week, I was driving home, listening to Marketplace on NPR, and some fellow gets on talking about Microsoft: "Lumbering..." he starts off with. "Dinosaur" he adds. Wow, he ripped into us more than I ever have. And what else shows up today? Lumbering Giants, mentioning Microsoft and other Dogs of the Dow.

This, combined with reports of Microsoft's death (SteveB and BillG in the repository: "Sorry, we're what? We can't hear you over all the ruckus of counting these billions raining down on us."), means we've reached a cultural turning point: Who's afraid of the big Microsoftie bad wolf?

No one.

Thank goodness. Pretty soon, the institutional shareholders might actually rub their eyes really well and look over the data, stumble up to the microphone at FAM, tap it, and say, "Hey! What the hell are you Bozos doing with my money?"

Personally, I'm in the middle of extreme diversification and I've scheduled myself out to aggressively sell-off all the MSFT ESPP and stock awards I've left alone for all these years. I guess that's just another little death in my confidence that Microsoft is actually ever going to turn around stock price-wise. I'm holding on to my options, though, hoping to at least fund an extra shot or two in my occasional mocha.

Other goings on...

InsideMS: "hey, was that a shark I just jumped?"

Collision Domain has a new post - "Bunnies!" - discussing the state of LisaB's internal InsideMS blog. Readers of the comments to a recent post will get the title. InsideMS certainly had a lot of potential at the get-go, along with probably a deep desire of Microsofties to use it as a place to engage and help change Microsoft and knowing that they could safely engage in conversation with peers. Then, it seems, it all went kinda wrong. Chops to LisaB for keeping it running as long as it has but hell, I wouldn't have it on my commitments either at this point. You can't keep posting on HR topics forever. I think it could change with more guest posts and with follow-up posts that summarized the major themes in comments so that the comments can at least be acknowledged, if not acted upon ("order up!").

Or maybe any topics originally started by He Who Must Not Be Named are off-limits.

If LisaB were to be interviewed, what are the hard, unanswered questions you'd want posed to her?

Microsoftie in the Field: hey, my goodness, a new post. Keep it up!

Outlook 2007 Performance: so, as Joel Spolsky notes, an update for Outlook 2007 was released to address performance problems. And, by the way, Outlook PM suggests you trim down your PST / OST size so that it doesn't accumulate email and silly stuff like that. Outlook is a temporal organizer, not a repository! Anyway, my performance is a little better but I still have strange freezes with POP, which I don't even know if it's on the Outlook team's radar. I'd be interested in what SQM said was the percent of non-Exchange Outlook users.

But it has me thinking. Thinking about waterfalled monolithic product wave shipping. Can it go on? Can we keep with the every three year product pipeline burst? One issue with Office proper is that it's half client software and half platform, and some large chunk of each wired up to the server solutions. The corner we've painted ourselves into is the platform part, where it was a strategic advantage but now IT departments are wary of upgrading less all their custom platform-based solutions regress because of new features or deprecation.

What to do? Well, avoid making that mistake again. Can Office be saved? Could you write a feature and stabilize it and just ship it, all within three months? A release of Office becomes constantly updated as new features come out, at least ensuring we can stay competitive fresh.

"Oy!" You start screaming about service packs and QFEs and N minus one and crazy sustainability crap like that. Really? Do we really have that limitation? Is it leading us to the path of reward and success?

And do we have the culture and know-how to be on track to just incrementally ship new features as we finish them? I'd be interested in knowing which groups do this really, really well.

Take This Microsoftie Job and Shove-It: Ms. Mary Jo Foley picks up on a f(Microsoftie) = Googler post: Ouch Goodbye Microsoft; Hello, Google. Ooo, that item got deleted from the blog. Silly delete. Never delete your blog entry. Always update and just plain replace the content with a space or a smiley. Less people track it down in the BlogLines cache by looking for feeds with "David Bennet" or such.

Vizzini! You know I have to give a shout-out to Mr. Joe Wilcox for his Princess Bride reference in DoubleClick and Microsoft's Thrift Culture. DoubleClick. Well, I'm glad it wasn't Microsoft paying $3,100,000,000 for it.

(Oh, and Mr. Wilcox: man, you've got some interesting comment action going on in your posts. Whew.)


229 comments:

1 – 200 of 229   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Dell is going to sell laptops and desktops with factory installed XP. Isn't this a big black mark on Vista. If, more manufacturers started doing this crazy thing then, we will really know how many people are actually moving to Vista without being forced by OEM Sellers.

Anonymous said...

Mini-I've been divesting for about 6 mos now...even dumping the MSFT shares in my 401k. All options above water were sold as soon as that magical 31 hit. While I know they weren't due to mature for 5 years, I am hoping to fund a MS exit (and year of globetrotting) after this years review. After almost 8 years the kool-aid is starting to taste like it comes from Guyana 1979 style. The beauty is I know I'll be able to come back to the bloated ship if nothing else pans out for me...because if they aren't hiring contractors, they'll surely have another 5k open hc!

Anonymous said...

One team that does the continuous innovation really well is Search. They've kept up a regular monthly release cycle now for more a coupla years. There have been a couple of cancellations ("don't run for the bus, there'll be anodder..."), but no fatal regressions, and only a few embarrasments(QFE'd within a week). Also little burnout. I think they can keep it up forever.

Sure, you say, it's trival when your release is installed in 5 places in the universe, but different when you're going to spatter the bits onto millions of CDs that you can't change for years. But in these days of Windows Update, I don't think anyone can claim that defense any more. So why don't *you* ship monthly releases?

Is it because you've so lost touch with your users that you have to make a year-long market survey to convince yourself and your management that you know what they didn't like?

Anonymous said...

"And You're a Microsoft Shareholder Because...?"

I'm not. I thought about buying a share to justify posting here and to justify spewing at the idiot analysts, but that would be disingenuous.

A couple of interesting news links:
Google 1Q Profit Rises 69 Percent
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070419/earns_google.html?.v=15

compared to Microsoft's $3.60 software offer:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/laptops--desktops/microsofts-cheap-deal/2007/04/20/1176697051100.html
Great pic of BG looking lost.

Jamie said...

On the topic of shareholders...I recently enjoyed reading the book Joy at Work, by Washington native Dennis Bakke. Bakke argues that stockholders are not the sole stakeholders in a company. As adjuncts of the company mission, Bakke lists the following stakeholders: customers, governments and communities, suppliers, financial institutions, employees, and shareholders (p. 156).

Essentially, he's saying that shareholders are one of many, but not the only (nor most important) stakeholder in a public company. Bakke's book covers other interesting themes, but this one seems relevant to the ongoing "what about share price/stockholder value?" conversation. I think I've read comments that suggest, essentially, that a public company's duty is to increase shareholder value, period. After reading Bakke's book I'm wondering if that isn't a short-sighted or oversimplified position.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of shareholders...I recently enjoyed reading the book Joy at Work, by Washington native Dennis Bakke. Bakke argues that stockholders are not the sole stakeholders in a company. As adjuncts of the company mission, Bakke lists the following stakeholders: customers, governments and communities, suppliers, financial institutions, employees, and shareholders (p. 156).

Essentially, he's saying that shareholders are one of many, but not the only (nor most important) stakeholder in a public company. Bakke's book covers other interesting themes, but this one seems relevant to the ongoing "what about share price/stockholder value?" conversation. I think I've read comments that suggest, essentially, that a public company's duty is to increase shareholder value, period. After reading Bakke's book I'm wondering if that isn't a short-sighted or oversimplified position.


That's hardly a new or unique spin on the meaning of "stakeholder". It's pretty much the Business 101 definition (although that's no guarantee that any of the execs at MS think in those terms. Often as not, it seems they don't even think of the average stockholder as stakeholders, just the partners.)

Anonymous said...

But in these days of Windows Update, I don't think anyone can claim that defense any more. So why don't *you* ship monthly releases?

Because our customers have told us LOUD AND CLEAR that they don't WANT new things delivered through these channels that frequently.

We moved from weekly patches to monthly patches based on this feedback. Most customers want a very small set of updates published, so they can target their testing.

If we were updating the OS on a monthly basis, the matrix of supported "versions" of the OS that we'd have to test on would be mind blowing.

Also, only a small fraction of the updates we publish ever make it to Windows Update. We need to limit that channel to important updates only.

Richard Berg said...

I think my group (Team Foundation Server) does a great job of delivering value both within and outside the traditional release cycle. Granted, we have a lot of things that work in our favor:
- most of our customers are on enterprise subscriptions of some sort. thus, incremental releases excite them without costing us revenue
- we're a young product, so we have tons of important features that didn't make it into v1
- we have a very "clean" architecture, i.e. each component layer (SQL, web services, client API, client UI) is completely modular

Despite all those advantages, it's not easy. Keeping a medium-sized team simultaneously focused on powertoys, v1 servicing, v1.5, and v2 must be a strain on management. I don't envy them, nor do I have illusions our strategy would scale to Windows / Office size unmodified. [insert Vista joke]

Nevertheless, there's a lot of good practices brewing here that should be examined, and if successful, copied throughout the company. Our PUM writes about many of the same things that come up here: agility in an evolving marketplace, transparency with customers & partners, incorporating feedback into the design process early & often. Check it out.

----

I don't have the time or skills to invest in individual stocks. Even if I did,

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why Windows Update isn't the solution to "agile software" is that even if the software you release on WU has a .05% failure rate on install, in absolute numbers that is a huge number of customers you just blew up. And then word about those failures shows up in every trade rag in the universe.
With web servers you can still screw things up for a percentage of your customers, but by the time it is picked up in the press, you probably already quick-turned the fix and pushed it back out to your server farm.

Richard said...

PS I'd say the same thing if I worked at Apple or Google.

PPS "less" != "lest"

Nerv said...

Mini - I have been reading your column for over 2 years and I enjoy it.
I would like to know what spin MS will be putting on the editorials on them channel stuffing the Xbox 360 for their coveted "10 million" mark.
http://www.informationarbitrage.com/2007/04/microsoft_phili.html
The NPD is showing march numbers (Nintendo is just printing money)... and the XBox 360 is not looking good.
http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/19/npd-march-belongs-to-ds-ps2/

As a hardcore gamer, I have known for some time that the XBox 360 is not flying off the shelves as MS has advertised. A lot of shareholders are also going to be sad when Halo 3 ships and there is no significant increase in sold units. The majority of people that play Halo 3 already own the system due to Gears of War.

Anonymous said...

"If LisaB were to be interviewed, what are the hard, unanswered questions you'd want posed to her?"

Lisa - if MSFT is so committed to retention of its senior women, why have so many left Xbox and Windows in the last year? What tangible action has been taken to address their exit interview feedback?

Anonymous said...

MS shareholder: no, not really. I'm an employee, and so I get stock vesting every now and then, and usually sell it when the price fluctuates up above $28. Honestly, does anyone really anticipate the stock rising significantly? The P/E ratio is currently ~24.5, which is probably too high. What could make it go significantly higher other than a) a market bubble (need that like a hole in the head) or b) a really huge--like billion$--jump in profit. I don't see the massive profit leap coming *ever*, UNLESS--and this is verrry sketchy--there is a big, big new market niche discovered. With Google pulling in some billions I can see the attractiveness of search advertising revenue, but it is fairly pie-in-the-sky to think they (GOOG) will all go on vacation in the Bahamas while we catch up. I can understand--though not agree with--the pursuit of gaming console as a hoped-for breakthrough market.

Put another way: if you want a little less risk and similar performance, buy a utility stock.

Anonymous said...

To pile on what others have said about feature releases: in Windows Sustained Engineering we have outsourced W2K and XP/W2K3 sustainment to offshore vendors and Microsoft's India dev center. Just properly staffing those whole teams, each like a small company in their own right, has been very tough. Splitting various features into mini-releases essentially creates a multitude of sub-products, each of which we would have to guarantee works properly with all of the other components of (Windows, Office, whatever). You get a huge combinatorial explosion of testing work to verify the different feature versions, different languages, etc. all work. And that is without any consideration for problems with hardware (3rd party drivers, etc).

I bet customers, if asked, would think the quick shipping cycle sounds great. "Microsoft writes a new super-widget, and I add it to Office 2008.Oct.31, cool!"

We see a huge backlash now whenever we release something that breaks our customers, and feature shipping would massively increase the risk.

Anonymous said...

"The majority of people that play Halo 3 already own the system due to Gears of War."

I don't really think that's the case. GoW sold *only* a million copies in two weeks. But Halo 2 sold *2.4 million copies in its first 24 hours on the shelves*. I think that many of those who are anticipating Halo 3 are waiting for its release to buy an Xbox 360.

I'm not weighing on the Xbox debate here, but make no mistake: Halo 3 *will* be a hit of Herculean proportions.

SilentAndNowHappy said...

I'm currently a shareholder. I'm converting all my 401k MSFT to index funds, and soon I'll convert all my ESPP to index funds too (but haven't yet due to tax consequences). It's a logical switch as it reduces investment risk and the 1, 2, and 5 year performance of certain index funds have beat MSFT.

Anonymous said...

Richard, are you eyeing a PM role?

>> Keeping a medium-sized team simultaneously focused on
>> powertoys, v1 servicing, v1.5, and v2 must be a strain on management.

This is something only a PM could say. Grunts in the trenches get completely hammered by doing four things at the same time and you worry about management! WTF dude?

Anonymous said...

As an ex-blue badge working in Corporate Finance who left about 2 years ago, I have to ask - what are you people thinking is going to make the stock price go up significantly from here? Every incremental dollar the company earns is less profitable than the previous because the areas that are really growing (relatively speaking) all have lower (or negative) margins than the company average. So how does the stock move significantly from where it is currently? Let me tell you - it doesn't. And Steveb knows this which is why all the cost cutting is going on, but even that can only go so far.

All big market cap companies face this problem at a certain point - a large cap company like MS can't double in market value, let alone grow by any significant percent without something fundamentally changing (significant new Windows/Office like product, large accretive acquisition, etc.). No signs of anything like that happening I'm afraid, mainly because 1) that would require true leadership, 2) they are very rare and 3) the government would never let it happen due to MS's monopoly status.

So for those of you who are holding on to those shares in hope of significant gains, better off to sell now and invest in something with more growth potential. I sold as I vested and did pretty decent compared to everyone else around me who held and watched those paper profits dissappear. Time to stop drinking so much of the cool-aid and face the harsh financial reality of MS - it just ain't a growth company anymore folks.

Anonymous said...

"One team that does the continuous innovation really well is Search."

Please, the Search team can't be considered a shining example of anything.

With &@^% near unlimited resources over the last 2 years, the Search team has managed to cut market share by 50%.

Then comes partnering with Search. Pain hardly describes what it's like to work with that group. We finally resolved our 'integration' problems with Search by having one dev's assigned to checking the weekly search prop's to find and fix the weekly breakage. They have no idea what 'Partner' means.

And before you call BS on this, explain to me why Search does not provide an INT (partner Test) environment where partners can test Search changes BEFORE they are released.

Richard said...

>> This is something only a PM could say. Grunts in the trenches get completely hammered by doing four things at the same time and you worry about management! WTF dude?

I'm not going to whine about its affect on me directly because (a) that's not my style (b) I'm in a rather unique role that's insulated from a lot of the release churn & context switching. I'm sure it takes a toll on my fellow ICs as much as anyone; they say as much. But my analysis of the hallway conversation leads me to believe it's just your average small-talk, sharing equal time & interest with other perpetual topics (slow network perf, idiot drivers on I-40).

As for management, the statement "I don't envy them" applies generally -- I sure as heck don't want to be one anytime soon. However, this line of thinking was primarily influenced by observing the things piled on my lead and his peers. When it comes to translating the grand visions of divisional / PU management into reality, IMO the leads are where the rubber meets the road. My boss especially does a ton of IC work while trying to mentor 6 directs, many of whom are brand-new to MS (and the USA). Not all leads have that kind of IC responsibility, granted. But they have a solid track record when it comes to shielding us from all the randomizing requests of this large org (schedule complexity chief among them) during milestone crunches. The flip side of my new role is I don't get that shielding anymore, so I get to see how draining it can be.

PS - I have no idea who you are. Dragging my job title out of the GAL and making it a topic of discussion here comes off kinda creepy.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask - what are you people thinking is going to make the stock price go up significantly from here?

Well, Ballmer said Microsoft would grow by one Procter and Gamble in 5 years (and that was more than a year ago). One PG is like $18-$20 addition to MSFT stock price.

Ha-ha-ha!

Anonymous said...

Lisa - what action has the BOD taken in response to the widely publicized verbal and physical threats steveb made to markl when he announced he was leaving MS?

This threat was implicitly directed at all MS employees, since all employees being at-will have the right to leave at any time. It is simply unacceptable for the CEO to physically threaten employees wanting to leave.

Anonymous said...

In terms of incremental upgrades to modular OS components:

Buggy, overly patched operating system = overwhelming compatibility issues = enormous "testing" workforce = no real way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Put another way: if you want a little less risk and similar performance, buy a utility stock.

Enron was a utility company.

Want diversification, try these:
Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX)

Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Investor Shares (VTSMX)

Anonymous said...

I cashed out my remaining shares a couple years ago when I felt that Microsoft had pretty much grown as big as it would ever be and everything else forward was slow decay. The final straw for me was the Xbox fiasco. The fact that the whole mess has not been killed off indicates there is something fundamentally broken in the top levels of the company. I would love to know how this basket-case of a project continues to be allowed to continue.

If Ballmer were to go, disasters like the Xbox stuff were killed, continued cutting of waste leftover from the high growth days, and someone at the top with a realistic and long term plan on how to hold on to the OS,server,office software markets in the increasingly open source/open document format computing world I could see MSFT becoming a good investment again, but never anything like it was back in the 1990s.

Anonymous said...

"If LisaB were to be interviewed, what are the hard, unanswered questions you'd want posed to her?"

Why doesn't HR fire Ballmer? Thank god the real conversation moved off insidems and back to Mini. LisaB is a shill for the Ballmer Boys Club - if you see how she is bonused vs. the other execs you know her true rank and value in the company. Unfortunate, because I see Ballmer and his lieutenants as a liability. I think people with that much money can shrug off any eventuality - "I'm as rich as croesus. If Microsoft crumbles, I'll walk."
If the industry didn't have a built-in antipathy toward Microsoft, I would rate the stock a buy. As it is, I know that if Google Office picks up steam, or if Apple builds Leopard for the PC, then the market will go roaring onto those platforms. The loss will clearly offset any traction we're able to gain. No new hires. Sell your stock.

Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1) Outlook--What a joke. GMail can search gigabytes of e-mail in a couple milliseconds but my dedicated PC takes 2 minutes to search 100 MB of e-mail. WTF??

2) Frequent updates--In the Unix world, everything is modular enough that nobody really thinks twice about upgrading their programs to minor new releases. With Microsoft software, everything is so monolithic and interrelated (by design, too) that you make a small change to anything and it could result in years of tracking down small unforeseen side effects. I doubt 3 (or 6, or 12) month release cycles are possible.

Anonymous said...

One team that does the continuous innovation really well is Search.

There were very interesting questions in Satya's all hands meeting today. One was how do we keep up our investment with google, like money spent on servers and acquisitions. They seemed willing to answer this question. Then the next question came, how about people investment, how we are going to do to retain people. The leadership team looked at each other and nobody wanted to answer this one. Then Satya tried to deflect the question (head count not an issue; quality of new hires not an issue - we are hiring very competitively). In the end he did not answer the question how to retain people - nor do I think he could.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the "order up" comment in Brummel's blog because I really was sick of the condescending tone that the executives/partners used in addressing comments written by the "regular folks".

I understand that the tone of the blog is conversational, but Brummel's "tone" reveals a lot about her true personality, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

>"It is simply unacceptable for the CEO to physically threaten employees wanting to leave."

Or to throw chairs across the room or to use the words fucking and pussy in conjunction with the words `I'm gonna kill that [exp del] [ref google CEO].

So, I second the question, 'Why doesn't HR fire Ballmer?' except for the obvious answer which is: Lisa dare go into a cage with a 900 lb insane gorilla, holding only a whip and a chair to prod him out the door.

Snappy H. Hosier

Anonymous said...

I’m not, I sell my ESPP the day are deposited in my account regardless of the momentum at that time, same for stock grants.

I still have a little in my 401K & options that I plan to sell when the price goes back to 30 or in sept./oct. before quiting.
I've learned my lesson a couple of years ago with MS stock (I didn't loose much $ in absolute terms but an index fund would have been a much better investment for the past ~6 years)

Anonymous said...

RE: Order Up posting
What can we do as employees against the attitude reflected in that "Order Up" thread? It's obvious that continuing the dialog there is pointless. And while this still isn't the right forum for those discussions, what is? Are we back to water coolers now?
Anybody up for registering the insidems2 or insidemsagain names?
What about OURinsideMS? Personally, if the point of HR is to be an advocate of the employees, we're getting a bum deal. (Yes, I know "Corporate Confidential" and all that. But isn't there an alternative? It doesn't HAVE to be this way, does it?)
Now at quick point to be back on topic...I hold my stock because it's too much effort to sell it. The grants I have are hardly worth the effort of converting anyway and the options are so underwater they needs SCUBA gear. Might as well cross my fingers and hope.

Anonymous said...

From I'd rather be Microsoft than Yahoo :

"Time will tell, but at this very moment I’d rather be Microsoft than Yahoo.

"Microsoft is still a leader. They rule the OS space, they rule the corporate desktop. They remain influential in many areas. They may not rule the web, but at least they remain leaders in very profitable spaces. And they have $40 billion in the bank."

Anonymous said...

I was an employee and now a share holder. My cost basis is $4/share and the original price has been paid for by the dividends. I am hoping the ship will turn course.

Anonymous said...

>Why doesn't HR fire Ballmer? Thank god the real conversation moved off insidems and back to Mini. LisaB is a shill for the Ballmer Boys Club

HR cant fire the CEO. The board has to do that job.

Anonymous said...

...physical threats steveb made to markl...

Read the statement...

The statement reads in part:

Prior to joining Google, I set up a meeting on or about November 11, 2004 with Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss my planned departure....At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: "Just tell me it's not Google." I told him it was Google.

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google." ....

Thereafter, Mr. Ballmer resumed trying to persuade me to stay....Among other things, Mr. Ballmer told me that "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards."


Steveb never made any physical threats against markl. He lost his temper, called eric a pussy, said he would bury/kill google, threw a chair at his conference table, etc.

Steve lost his temper, simple as that. If you know steve, you know he can get animated at times. Thats all that happened.

Anonymous said...

Re: ...physical threats steveb made to markl...

I dare you to lose your temper and try throwing a chair while swearing in a meeting. You'll be fired almost immediately. Since when is it okay for the CEO of a company to do that?

Anonymous said...

Please read Adam Barr's recent post about buying a new PC .
To say the least - the post makes me sad and angry. But as long as straight-shooters like Adam, Raymond etc are still around - its more than an inspiration for me to stick around and fight for the company that I still goddamn believe in.

Anonymous said...

"Steve lost his temper, simple as that. If you know steve, you know he can get animated at times. Thats all that happened."

This is one of the best minimizations of bad behavior I have ever seen. That is not adult behavior. It's really not even adolescent behavior. The guy has issues-- and if you don't think those issues are translating into steering the SS Minnow, I mean SS Microsoft aground, you're blinded by your rationalizations.

This company is such a mess on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Because our customers have told us LOUD AND CLEAR that they don't WANT new things delivered through these channels that frequently.

That's because YOU have screwed your customers many times with patches that cause regression problems due to YOUR products being showcases of brittleness, tight coupling, and complexity. Fewer patches from you means corporate IT departments have a chance to catch your latest goof in time.

We moved from weekly patches to monthly patches based on this feedback. Most customers want a very small set of updates published, so they can target their testing.

See above comment. It's not that we want our MS products updated sometime next year because we don't like to be up-to-date; it's that you can't be trusted - based on your record - to do it right every time.

If we were updating the OS on a monthly basis, the matrix of supported "versions" of the OS that we'd have to test on would be mind blowing.

There's no simple answer, admittedly; but a huge part of this problem is due to your overly bloated, integrated product designs.

Also, only a small fraction of the updates we publish ever make it to Windows Update. We need to limit that channel to important updates only.

One piece of the headache of dealing with MS (never mind practically indecipherable licensing etc.) is multiple channels for info, patches, downloads, you name it. I think Update already differentiates critical vs. optional; don't be so arrogant to think that your customers can't figure it out, esp. if you provide good, SIMPLE filters (critical, optional, hardware are good starts)!

When Update included other products besides Windows (e.g. Office, SQL Server, VS2005) that was a blessing for CUSTOMERS. But, who knows, maybe you'd want to roll that back too, since some people apparently think it's good to waste customers' time by forcing them to hunt down downloads, info, etc. in the myriad disconnected maze-silos of Microsoft since you're apparently not able to come up with simple tools (this is why Google is eating your lunch) or trust your customers.

----------

I sold all my MS stock a while back. Made a profit, though not as much as with any of my mutual funds. See no reason to buy any at this point, because in all frankness, the great products at MS are far outnumbered by stuff I just don't need in my life, too much expense and pain and complexity for questionable (at best) benefits.

Anonymous said...

"My cost basis is $4/share"

Good call. The folks who rant here (like me) run a cost basis of closer to $27.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why I am holding on to Microsoft is that it is a great forward looking investment - close to the bottom of its valuation, yet an enterprise with very healthy cash flow and low cost of revenue.

Windows and Office will continue raking in the cash, while the big bets either succeed or fail. I see it as positive that we can execute our bets without having to raise new capital.

I am more bullish on some of those bets (xbox, iptv, home server, office servers) than you guys - MSFT does lousy marketing on the home front, but it's a great way to watch once you figure out how to hook an xbox up to your home media center and home server.

One of these days one of the bets will pay off big time, and that's when stock's going to jump.

Meanwhile, all the ugly litigation is closing down, the base line is sustained, and we could afford to double dividends whenever we feel like it.

So, comparing to the field: we have a healthy valuation for current p/e. We're at the beginning of selling a number of major new products. We have some interesting bets lined up. We have no debt. We could operate on no income for the next five years (full product cycle) if we had to. Makes us stick out from the competition in a positive way, well enough for me to hold.

Anonymous said...

Steve lost his temper, simple as that. If you know steve, you know he can get animated at times. Thats all that happened.

Well, besides his temper, he also lost a very senior engineer. I don't know MarkL well enough to be 100% positiive, but I'm pretty sure the reason he left had more to do with what Microsoft had become that with what Google was or wasn't.

We're losing people who can actually build products because those people are losing internal battles to brown-nosers and yes-men.

Anonymous said...

>"Steve lost his temper, simple as that. If you know steve, you know he can get animated at times. Thats all that happened."

So why does Balmer own MS stock? To keep his job.

I lost my last job (i.e., was fired from) because I said "this is fucking bullshit" to my boss (note, not 'you are full of ...') Happens all the time. Words usually get you fired. Throwing stuff always does, unless you are CEO and control a lot of company value in the form of stock.

Balmer is still at Microsoft because he is CEO and owns more stock value in Microsoft than the gross output of most nations, and the board doesn't have the balls or intellectual acumen to do its job.

And yes, it is fucking bullshit and welcome to the real world.

William F. Zanzinger

Anonymous said...

Steveb never made any physical threats against markl.

Employee walks into the office of his boss. Employee tells boss he is leaving, and joining Company X. Boss responds with violent anger, jumps up, throws a chair across the room, swearing wildly about the company and threatening violence to the company "I'm going to kill Company X, I've done it before, will do it again"

The action of the boss here is by it's very nature both a verbal and physical threat to the employee, and by extension, all employees of Microsoft.

Of course, you can disagree but it's not you that will decide, it's a jury that will. I very much doubt that MS would want the highly public nature of such a trial. Further, I suspect it would not be hard to find a jury that would disagree this is physically threatening to both markl by extension any and all employees of MS.

Of course, until a law firm tests this we will not know the answer...

The BOD has a responsibility here. HR works for Steve, they are not going to act. They probably feel threatened as well. In fact, if the Board does not act, they can be found culpable by their very in-action. Either they act, or the suffer the consequences of a very public and expensive law suit.

Anonymous said...

Steve lost his temper, simple as that.

In the real world, if you're in a meeting with someone and what you say to him is apparently so incendiary that he is throwing furniture, it's reasonable to feel physically threatened.

In all the office confrontations I've witnessed, heard about, or been involved with, there has never been any physical violence of any kind. If there was, someone would (rightly) scream bloody murder and press charges, because it's not acceptable corporate behavior no matter what special allowance you want to make for someone's famous "temper."

Anonymous said...

Steve lost his temper, simple as that ...

Don't punish the stock further by apologizing for the "house liability". If Ballmer want to toss chairs he can toss them straight up so when they come down they land on or near the only pussy in the room.

Long-short, Ballmer is a bully. When you have a monopoly, you're in a position to bully. That "comfort zone" is going away for Ballmer. Soon the industry will judge the wisdom of his decisions under competitve pressure. That's when the real entertainment will begin.

Who da'Punk said...

At this point, I feel the Ballmer + Chair Throwing discussion is a bit worn out. If MarkL has anything to add, fine, but let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, at Friday, April 20, 2007 1:57:00 PM:

"All big market cap companies face this problem at a certain point - a large cap company like MS can't double in market value, let alone grow by any significant percent without something fundamentally changing (significant new Windows/Office like product, large accretive acquisition, etc.). No signs of anything like that happening I'm afraid, mainly because 1) that would require true leadership, 2) they are very rare and 3) the government would never let it happen due to MS's monopoly status."

You really nailed it. This is why Microsoft keeps jacking up the total number of employees. It is doing dozens of new projects in the desperate hope that one of the will hit the jackpot.

It is also why the recent trend away from drm is such bad news for Microsoft. Locking the media world into Microsoft's brand of drm was the one realistic hope for establishing a massive new monopoly, and one that would protect its old ones.

Anonymous said...

Back to stock discussion. MSFT PE==24.59??

Just look at these figures from MSFT's financial highlites:

Sales* 46.06 Bil
Income* 11.91 Bil
Sales Growth* +11.30%
Income Growth* -28.10%
Net Profit Margin +25.86%

The BOLD numbers are due to charges from Vista free upgrades from buying XP laptops. This impact won't happen this quarter so I would think the real PE is ~20.

With DOW so close to 13k, it will sure cross the 13k boundary next week and together with it is MSFT testing $30 again. Thursday after hours MS will announce their quarter.

Why do you think MSFT goes from 27.7 to 29 in less than 3 weeks time (Apr 2nd to Apr 20th)?

Growth Potentials?

The fact is that MSFT is still a cash generating factory. You can say that Vista/Office don't grow by much. Growing less than 10% is pretty darn good.

Server & Tools - Windows Server, SQL Server and Exchange are growing profit almost 15-18% year over year. Even Biztalk is approaching 100 million soon.

Xbox 360 - hey, the initial cost of marketing/dev has been charged. Now it's getting closer and closer to profit.

Live/Search - this is a needed investment to keep pace with other guys. Looking at MSN's figure, we lose market share but do you think MSN or YHOO is losing more to GOOG. I frankly think another 2 quarters of bad results YHOO is up for bid.

Anonymous said...

The thing about investment is never pay anything full price.

AAPL $91???
GOOG $500???

These guys are fully priced in. Look at GOOG, they are not going anywhere for the last 6 months.

MSFT to me is 25% discount right now. Buy at a bargain, not when it's fully hyped out.

Anonymous said...

"William F. Zanzinger"

The dude who killed poor Hattie Carroll posts here??!?

WhodaThunk it!

Mark Lucovsky, Software Engineer said...

Steve lost his temper, simple as that. If you know steve, you know he can get animated at times. Thats all that happened.

Sorry. I should have signed this one -markl. I didn't feel threatened at all. Steve simply lost his temper. That evening, I called Eric to tell him that me joining Google might focus Microsoft a bit on Google and if he didn't want the heat I would bow out.

Any, I wrote the comment to dispell this notion that Steve somehow made physical threats against me. He did not do this. I did not feel threatened in any way.

If Microsoft's BOD wants to let Steve go it should be for mis-managing the company. I don't know if this has happened or not. That has nothing to do with why I left.

I left because I am an engineer and want to write/launch code and wanted to learn services in a real world environment. Google offered this opportunity. Microsoft did not.

And finally. Yes. I am still a shareholder. Not because I think Microsoft will experience an explosive growth spurt. Instead because I am lazy and my ESPP that I purchased over the years is all I have left.

-markl

Anonymous said...

Xbox 360 - hey, the initial cost of marketing/dev has been charged. Now it's getting closer and closer to profit.

This comment might make sense if Xbox360 was a software product being replicated by disk image copying ontoi OEM hardware. It isn't.

Every Xbox 360 costs some real money to fabricate, assemble, test, and ship. As long as we're pumping hardware into stores at a net loss per unit, the time to recovery on the investment floats further away, unless users start buying a lot more games per machine than they are now.

Common wisdom is that a console generation's lifetime is about five years. Will Xbox 360 and the games sold for it turn anything like a net profit before being retired for the next generation? Xbox-1 didn't..

http://ce.seekingalpha.com/article/32642

Anonymous said...

I respect MarkL for his work in MS. I don't hold a grudge against him for the mess Hailstorm was and how I wasted 18 months of my life designing my products to use what was a misplaced adventure at that time. We could only whisper our concerns about Hailstorm but someday the din was loud enough and the blank check was withdrawn. The aura that makes some people untouchables in MS sometimes wane, only that it does for the wrong reasons - like not being the beloved son anymore, or pissing off the wrong clique.

I wish the aura cloud surrounding many more Windows heavyweights could meet such fate. Yes they were great in the past but even America is having a tough time leading the world based on her past glory. Now these heavyweights are bent on frustrating SteveSi's efforts because he is gradually dismantling empires block by block with his trio model.

Not that I am counting but MarkL has wrapped up 3 years at GOOG. I am yet to see a shipped GOOG product with his stamp on it. Hey he pointed out the lack of agility in MS - which was true, hence the comparism. I hope all that deep low level expertise of his has not been exchanged for some script kiddie work at GOOG. The dude is way too smart for that kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

MSFT is no longer a growth story. It is an established stock-- for conservative investors who are pleased to have dividend payouts. There's nothing wrong with that, unless, of course, you're jones'n for the next explosive thing.

I believe the next big thing is already here-- personal tech like the iPod and perhaps the iPhone. If this is true, MSFT has its work cut out for the foreseeable future. Personal tech buyers ≠ business buyers. This probably means that MSFT ≠ growth stock because, well, business folks already have it the Microsoft way-- good enough.

Consumers, though, don't want good enough, they want amazing, cool, emotionally-resonating, and life-enhancing gizmos. They are an IT department of one. It needs to work and work well from the moment the box opens.

This is not MS's strong suit.

I predict iPhone is going to kick some major butt. Then, as has been mentioned on this blog before, MS can do what it really does do best, be the conscientious follower. There will continue to be piles of cash. Funny to say, but... so what?

Anonymous said...

>WhodaThunk it!

Beware the troll.

Steve's a great guy and has made us all rich--can't wait to see Africa from space.

Stay on topic.

M. E. Sterbil

Anonymous said...

Every Xbox 360 costs some real money to fabricate, assemble, test, and ship.

Everybody knows there are no margins in hardware. The Xbox is only intended to be an onramp to all the downloadable goodies that can be charged for. Xbox is the razor. The blades are no doubt on the way.

Anonymous said...

MSFT is no longer a growth story. It is an established stock-- for conservative investors who are pleased to have dividend payouts.

MSFT dividends aren't big enough to please anyone. We're still running the stock as if it were a growth company. As with so many other things these days, MSFT leadership doesn't know what the company's strengths and weaknesses are.

Anonymous said...

Xbox is the razor. The blades are no doubt on the way.

That was the (unofficial) idea with Xbox-1 but all it did was lose money and get replaced.

If your business model is razor blades but you sell razors before you even know what the blades are, you're an idiot. You have half a business model. What guarantee do you have that you'll even think of the other half? And if it's so hard to think of, it's probably not going to be simple or very good.

Joe said...

No margin on gaming Hardware? Perhaps you should take a look at Nintendo who make near 50% gross margins on their console and handhelds.

Keeperplanet said...

>"Everybody knows there are no margins in hardware."

You forgot to add "when you build me-to products, have it made by someone else, and don't have an original product design concept idea among 70,000 employees, because they make software not hardware."

The 'blade' is original thinking, not leveraging/forcing some poor kid and his parents into buying a piece of junk that is obsolete before it is shipped, conceived to be a computer for the living room in disguise and cannot hope to keep up with what your customers might really want: choice.

Anonymous said...

http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/070423/advertising_rankings.html?.v=5

Anonymous said...

>Mini said: ". . .and some fellow gets on talking about Microsoft: "Lumbering..." he starts off with. "Dinosaur" he adds."

Have you ever heard the proverb about the man who looked in the mirror and forgot what he looked like when he turned away?

Another said: >"MSFT to me is 25% discount right now. Buy at a bargain, not when it's fully hyped out."

There is someone who understands the dynamics of what is going on.

A few more notes from the user base:

Where are you going as a company? IBM or Sony? a)seeped in research, commercial services, cutting edge component development and a long term vision of the future or b) making stereos, Walkman players, game consoles, computers and Spiderman, selling directly to consumers.

Trying to do both is making the company implode with a weird kind of corporate schizophrenia.

Here is another thought: Microsoft is about software coming alive in everything those other companies make. It has nothing to do with Google or Apple and is served by no one else on a universal scale. Nor does that self have anything to do with Vista. Once you figure out who you are, MS, the rest will follow.

Anonymous said...

regarding updates:

don't be so arrogant to think that your customers can't figure it out, esp. if you provide good, SIMPLE filters (critical, optional, hardware are good starts)!

It's not arrogance. I know for sure that customers don't take the time to read the info. I think the idea of optional updates showing up by default is probably a mistake. If people want to opt-in to see that stuff, that's fine. But the masses don't need it.

Content gets pushed out by mistake every now and then. People don't take the time to read the details about what it is, they just go install it. Even if a small percentage install it, it's still hundreds of thousands of people. Our newsgroups and web forums are full of posts from people that have done this.

When Update included other products besides Windows (e.g. Office, SQL Server, VS2005) that was a blessing for CUSTOMERS.

I definitely agree. I don't know why you thought I'd want to see it roll back.

I agree that there are too damn many places where our software is posted, and it's difficult to find the fixes you need.

Ihar Filipau said...

Quote: "Anyway, my performance is a little better but I still have strange freezes with POP, which I don't even know if it's on the Outlook team's radar."

This is "not a bug but feature". It is present in all versions of Outlook I ever had to work.

This is feature of the same kind as Outlook automagically converting your e-mail into some internal format which can be read only by Outlook. And has about the same age as former.

All people around the world "enjoy" the features of Outlook every day.

[/sarcasm]

Frankly, the frigging bugs persist in all versions of Outlook, so people just got used to them.

Cannot send? Ha! - POP receive hanged - restart Outlook and try to send again. Or try to close the POP receive windows - but generally, killing Outlook is much faster than waiting for Outlook to close the hanged window. Happens every day.

Sent message is empty and has winmail.dat? - Re-open sent message, set formating to plain text, save it, close it, reopen it again and try to send again. Should work now! Happens often when replying to other's messages.

Send message is unreadable/has funky encoding? - Re-open sent message, copy content to e.g. notepad, set in options to default to UTF-8 encoding, create new message, paste content from notepad, ensure that message has UTF-8 encoding, try to send now. Happens often when replying to other's messages.

Anonymous said...

From an interview with Joel Spolsky at http://www.foundersatwork.com/joelspolsky.html. The last two paragraphs are the most interesting...

Livingston: Who did you learn things from?

Spolsky: Oh, everyone. I can't even begin to list the number of people who taught me things.

I was in the Israeli army, and I learned some strategy there by mistake, by osmosis. In order to avoid spending too much time in uniform, I did this kibbutz army program. It was two years on a kibbutz, which is a communal farm in Israel. They usually have industry, and the kibbutz I was on had a bakery, which was this gigantic factory that made bread. I spent almost 2 years making bread every night in this factory that made hundreds of thousands of loaves of bread. It was not artisan bread by any stretch of the imagination. It was a big, noisy bakery. There are so many things that I learned from that about how people work, how to think about working, how to manage, how an assembly line might be organized, how industrial machinery works.

But my first job at Microsoft is really where I learned the software industry. I got there in 1991. At the time, there were almost—I hesitate to say this, but—no software companies that really knew the basics of how to develop software in the way that Microsoft did. They accomplished what they did because they figured out a ton of things about how to make software, repeatedly and reliably, that people want to buy, that nobody else had figured out. And they were doing things like bug tracking—like having a bug-tracking database—that seem completely obvious, and, when you looked around, 80 percent of commercial software companies did not do bug tracking. Or 80 percent of commercial software companies did not write specifications. Or 99 percent of commercial software companies did not do usability testing.

If you were an alien and you came here in 1991 and you wanted to learn how to develop software, you would learn ten times as much at Microsoft as anywhere else, I think, because I watched these companies kind of flail making mistakes. There were things—really basic things, that companies did not know. Microsoft knew that loading a segment register on the 386 was a very time-consuming operation, and therefore on the 386 architecture you can't use far pointers unless you absolutely have to because it's extremely slow. Borland did not know that. Result: Microsoft Access loaded in 2 or 3 seconds; Borland Paradox for Windows took 90 seconds to get running. Because of something that Microsoft knew that Borland did not know. And that's one of a million examples.

Now Microsoft has forgotten all these things, and they've hired a lot of morons that don't know these things anymore. I think that now Microsoft is kind of a big tar pit where you can barely move forward because there's so much bureaucracy. But I learned a lot.

Livingston: There were only 5,000 people back then, right?

Spolsky: Right, 1,000 of whom were developers. 200 were program managers. I was a program manager. I was working on Excel, which was really at the heart of the company, other than Windows and DOS, so it was really cool.

Anonymous said...

>"Content gets pushed out by mistake every now and then. People don't take the time to read the details about what it is, they just go install it."

You softies are so out of the loop of what effect your updates, process, and format is having on customers it boggles the mind. Don't you ever talk to customers? (probably you really don't want to know.)

Standard Procedure among my friends and me is: Buy software/and or computer--use system for a while--tweak and it works--think for a moment, update--ok--update--crap begins to happen--can't find the source--uninstall all updates--crap still happens because everything doesn't really uninstall--format hard drive--start over.

And that is what informed users do. Imagine what Joe sixpack and family go through.

Anonymous said...

I am so so so pissed off right now, I have quite a few options that I did not sell off when they were buying off underwater options. I foolishly expected the stock to rise above $31, but instead it went down after Ballmer's stupid comments on earnings. Now I've got nothing at all to show for my 8+ years at Microsoft. Ballmer should compensate us all out of his billions.

Jamie said...

That's hardly a new or unique spin on the meaning of "stakeholder". It's pretty much the Business 101 definition...

I didn't take business 101. I trust you that this isn't new or unique. What it is, however, is relevant.

There's an interesting conversation here that this anonymous comment kind of shut down with a somewhat passive-aggressive "that's nothing new" grumbling comment. It's precisely the kind of comment that's part of the problem, rather than part of a solution. A cleverly tacit message: "I have nothing to learn here--I already know this stuff."

For years I've read of the stock conversation that centers around shareholder value, as if that were all that mattered. What does Microsoft want to do for its community, employees, customers, stockholders, partners (external), partners (internal), community, nation, world? What's the next vision?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft may be caught in the situation described in Clayton Christianson's book The Innovator's Dilemma. This is when a product that dominates a market is undercut by a new product that takes out the bottem of the market and then works its way up.

According to David Berlind, Google Apps is doing something like that to Office.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Berlind/?p=437

Anonymous said...

Underwater again

7 years and the stock hasn't been able to hold even a $0.01 gain.

Sad and telling

Anonymous said...

When Gates saw that Google had reached critical mass he gave his two year's notice. He will be out of Redmond by the time the big shells hit (Google Apps). Ballmer has taken a different tack. I don't think he's ever sold a share. Perhaps because he sees a bright future and just plain loves this darn company. Or maybe because each share comes with a voting right, and its tough for the board to oust a majority owner. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I foolishly expected the stock to rise above $31, but instead it went down after Ballmer's stupid comments on earnings. Now I've got nothing at all to show for my 8+ years at Microsoft. Ballmer should compensate us all out of his billions.

Yeah, and at the company meeting sometime around 2000 (may have been 2001) he asked if we thought the stock price would increase over the years, and proceeded to say he sure did.

Anonymous said...

Buffett was right about technology. Its fun when you get in on the ground floor, but erratic otherwise. There is the excitement of working for a pimply faced kid who clobbers IBM, the launch of Office, the launch of Win95, the ruin of Netscape. It seems like every technology company has its big day followed by an attendant hangover. Right now we're reaching for the aspirin.

Anonymous said...

Now I've got nothing at all to show for my 8+ years at Microsoft.

Hmmm... You must not be a partner. It's good to be a partner. They have 8m+ to show for their past 8 years here.

Anonymous said...

>You softies are so out of the loop of what effect your updates, process, and format is having on customers it boggles the mind. Don't you ever talk to customers? (probably you really don't want to know.)

I think you completely missed my point.

Can you please clarify what you're trying to say here?

What is wrong with the update process? What is wrong with the update format? How would you make it better?

Anonymous said...

Can you please clarify what you're trying to say here?

It's somebody else's comment, not mine, but I think I know exactly what he/she is referring to.

You can't trust incremental Windows upgrades (be they OS or app upgrades) because they routinely screw up your configuration in a way that cannot be easily undone.

It seems like this happens because of the porous nature of Windows, wherein everything is cross-patched and micro-integrated with everything else (including layers and layers of legacy compatability) so that there's absolutely no way to be certain that (for example) upgrading Excel won't destroy your ability to print from Word, or that installing a scanner and the scanner software won't make a game unplayable or ruin the preferences in WMP or something else.

The poster whose ambiguity you're complaining about is talking about this problem. You upgrade something; you break something else; you try to remove the upgrade; the uninstall process misses something; now you're screwed and you have to pave the drive and start over.

The poster suggests that this happens far, far more often than anyone at Microsoft seems to realize, and that, for those of us capable of doing what I described, it's merely an unbearably tedious and unwanted task, but for "grandma" it's just another reason to helplessly watch your computer become unusable and be powerless to do anything about it, just because you followed cryptic "upgrade" directions (coupled with scary language about the "dangers" of your current setup.)

If I didn't get this right, I apologize. But I know exactly what this person is complaining about.

By contrast, on a Mac, if you upgrade an App and it stops working, you just trash the App and start over, because there's no (goddamned) registry and the OS is designed to be truly modular.

Anonymous said...

>"What is wrong with the update process? What is wrong with the update format? How would you make it better?"

Thank you so much for asking. You have to be patient with my description because I am a user (about 25 years now, still have windows 1.0 in the packaging)--not a coder.

To start, the critical mass of broadband everywhere is still a long way off. The last three places I lived, including here does not have it available and won't have for years out, no cable internet, etc. So the format of distribution of updates only effective in the major cities and some rural areas. So right off the bat, Google, Live, and distribution of large files like the rollups is mind numbing to download at 56kbps. Sometimes there are a dozen or more updates that take hours to download.

You have implemented a system of maintenance that is way over the top in terms of cost of my time and your resources. Clearly, Microsoft is a stuck in a groove of problematic design with the system and needs to brainstorm what you are doing here with the target of doing something completely different that is designed to provide a positive user experience. That will require a total overhaul of your products because quite frankly, no one wants what you have now.

The descriptions of the downloads is horrific. It is very difficult to figure out quickly if you even want it. There needs to be a way to determine instantly what it is, what it does, positives, negatives and potential problems if you decide to install it. Many of your updates are really just extensions of a legal department that needs to be throttled back to allow Microsoft to start serving customers again.

Microsoft lies. Many critical updates are not critical but are enhancements to DRM that have caused enormous usability problems for honest people with purchased content. The backward compatibility of XP in that area has caused your customers to decide to abandon Microsoft as soon as possible. Reverse course and put usability back into its software.

Mostly this is in the DVD video use areas, but the lunacy of your EULAs has really just made millions to go elsewhere. I gave up. Won't use Vista and have to use an older notebook with Windows 2000 installed (not connected, no service packs) to be able to view my many hundreds of DVDs which I collect. I would not use Vista if it was free. All this because the updates are unreliable and consistently failure prone or worse, install more and intrusive DRM features.

Getting back to the update process, if a customer decides to ignore it, you penalize that person with a red shield and constant annoyances reminding the user to update, same with the WGA and other areas. I purchased my software with a notebook. I find it incredibly insulting and irritating to be challenged on whether or not I have the right to use something I already paid for from someone else. It is a commodity whether you want to accept that or not.

Just sell us the software and walk away with a passive option to upgrade or install additional updates. Russonovich said this week that Vista will not solve the malware issues. I have figured out other ways to protect myself that has nothing to do with Microsoft. Let the market work to solve most of the security issues for you, after Microsoft has made its best effort to lock down the OS.

Bundle your software in a way so that everything in msconfig is not being utilized is turned off for each typical use application (engineering CAD, entertainment pc, graphics machine, etc.) Data mining is something we the customers will continue to control no matter how much MS and commercial accounts try to convince us otherwise. Protecting user privacy will be your biggest weapon against Google and online add based apps.

The fact that you have to come up with updates every month forever is an indication that the core design of the software, i.e., the basic foundational design is flawed and incorrectly conceived. You need to come up with software that you don't have to fix every day, that is stand alone and protects itself. Mark when he was with Sysinternals was on the right path, but you need to put a lot of resources into developing an OS that is impossible to hack or alter.

Big task but it is your most important means of survival as a company. It may require working with the board manufacturers to implement a nested flash board that has the OS embedded permanently, which flows to a working set of registers when the machine is turned on. You could then sell the OS as a component that inserts into the computer by the user, like you would put a battery in a cell phone. You need to consider for a moment that form would eliminate dozens of existing problems created with selling licenses.

I am keeperplanet if you want to contact me. http://headstuf.com

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and at the company meeting sometime around 2000 (may have been 2001) he asked if we thought the stock price would increase over the years, and proceeded to say he sure did.

Actually, IIRC, he came out and said regarding the stock price, "what goes up, must...er...um...go up more!!!" at which point the crowd started booing. Certainly not one of the highlights in his career, I'm sure.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"I think I've read comments that suggest, essentially, that a public company's duty is to increase shareholder value, period. After reading Bakke's book I'm wondering if that isn't a short-sighted or oversimplified position."

That is the primary mandate for the management team of a public company. That doesn't mean that it's the only mandate or that shareholders are the only stakeholders. As someone else said, this is Bus 101. WRT Bakke, it's interesting that someone who went to the public markets to monetize his fortune now questions the importance of those public shareholders. I'd have a lot more respect for his opinion if he'd kept his company private. When you go public, you take investor's money in return for agreeing to enhance shareholder value. You don't get to enjoy all the benefits and then later, when the going gets tougher, say "Gee, I'm not sure that's important anymore". MSFT's senior insiders are all to happy to have a public market when they're leading the industry every Q in insider selling. It's just those pesky shareholders asking wtf management has done for them these past 8 years that they'd prefer to ignore...

Keeperplanet said...

>"If I didn't get this right, I apologize. But I know exactly what this person is complaining about."

Thank you, thank you, thank you for so eloquently explaining my position.

Here is an example of how screwed up the update process is. I had a working system in XP (HP Pavilion notebook) and everything work fine for about a week when the updates started coming in, stuff stopped working, ability to view dvd movies, and more importantly my own content.

I uninstalled 100% of the updates on the computer that was 100% up to date last week. And in both cases, a freebie website I did for some friends could not be copied to a CD for them to use. I took all the images myself, loaded them onto the PC, built the two page website, tried to copy everything onto a CD and it just sat there and clicked and whirred away the same way it does for a DVD movie. Nothing at all is wrong with the components or computer. If I format the hard drive and start over, loading the core OS back in, everything will work.

You have no idea how peeved I about this clear and intentional denial of use of a purchased product.

Anonymous said...

>"What is wrong with the update process? What is wrong with the update format? How would you make it better?"

A few points:
- Code has bugs.
- Some bugs are security holes.
- While more care and rigor can reduce this, nothing can totally eliminate it (even BSD has had two (IIRC) remote compromises in the last 8 years).
- Updates are therefore necessary.
- If other software depends on what is updated, breaking something else with an update is possible.

That said, Microsoft has a much bigger problem here than they should.

Fundamentally, the problem isn't with the update process. The problem is with your software architecture. Frankly, it stinks. And it stinks not just because it fails to conform to some abstract concept of goodness; it stinks because it has far more interdependencies than it should. That leaves you with too high a probability that when you update something, something else will break. That's bad architecture.

How should you fix it? I'm not sure that you can, at this point. I'd like to say that you should dynamite the code base and start over, with some people that understand architecture calling the shots, but from a business perspective, that simply isn't going to happen. But what else is there? You can try to fix the worst of the malignant dependencies in the next release, but that's an enormous effort on a code base this large, and during the fixing time you have to live with update being the problem it currently is, and when you're done, you still only have a situation that's somewhat better, not one that's really fixed.

From where I sit, it looks like Microsoft spent years rushing stuff to market, because features in the market won a lot of business. This enabled Microsoft to grow into the giant it now is. But it happened at the expense of solid software engineering practice, and the result is an architectural nightmare. I sympathize with the software engineers trying to work in a swamp that they didn't create. But to the company as a whole, I say, "You made your bed..."

MSS

Anonymous said...

God it feels good to own AAPL or AMZN today. AAPL +10%, AMZN +27%, MSFT is in brownian motion.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and at the company meeting sometime around 2000 (may have been 2001) he asked if we thought the stock price would increase over the years, and proceeded to say he sure did.

At the company meeting sometime around 2000 he also showed video of Muhammed Ali laying on the ropes being beaten by Joe Frazier - rope a dope. After Frazier was spent, Ali came off the ropes and finished Frazier off. Ballmer pointed up to the screen and said: "we're like Ali was, we're on the ropes now, but we will come back!" He forgot to mention that laying on the ropes getting the tar beat out of you, waiting for your opponents to get tired, is also a good way to get Parkinson's Disease.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, all the people who wrote the crappy code received their stock options, cashed out and left.

Those of us there now are working like unpaid whores to fix the problems. It's incredibly frustrating. Many of our predecessors, the super smart college hires who could not code out of a box, should be sued for professional negligence, and have their excessive compensation returned to customers.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, on Mini we are discussing the relative merits of upgrade/patch proceedures Win vs. Mac, how much a public company should be worried about increasing shareholder value vs. serving other stakeholders, and whether we are facing an innovator's dilemma.

On InsideMS, they are conducting a debate on gun control with all the maturity you'd expect of third graders. And the comments on InsideMS think it's a more, ah, respectable blog.

Definitely a good call on moderation there Who'da. If you ever do sit down with LisaB, maybe you can 'splain how it works to her.

Does it say something that the official, internal, run by MS execs "what can we do better" blog is about as useful as a 1996 alt. newsgroup, while the outlaw site is discussing real issues that might actually matter to the future of the company?

Nah, didn't think so. Go bunnies.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of stock performance, it's interesting to note that in the very same quarter that Vista finally shipped, Apple posted a record for Q1. Checking the three-month chart, MSFT is down 5%, and Apple's up 10.5% (not counting today's after-hours jump).

What I want to know from MSFT shareholders is, when are you guys going to vote Ballmer out? He's costing you a fortune.

Ready for the stock to hit 40 said...

These guys are fully priced in. Look at GOOG, they are not going anywhere for the last 6 months.


Good lord have you looked at the performance of our stock? I would be happy if it was only 6 months since our stock moved. Unfortunately our stock has gone above 30 one time since January of 2002! And dipped down to 30 for the first time on November of 2000. So basically the stock has done NOTHING for almost 7 years. Any financial planner will tell you you should double your money every 8 year. With our stock you have seen no growth if you put it in the NYSE composit you would have a 40% return.

I have been on a huge selling spree. Nothing in my 401k. My ESPP sells as soon as it turns long. My grants sell immediately. Having been here for 13 years I have seen it the good and the bad.

It is time for us to do something. Obviously what we are doing is not working. Here is what I suggest:
* Start Buying some people. EBAY, Amazon, Yahoo, SAP are just a start
* Split the company up. If we can't get growth as a battleship then lets break it up and and get growth other ways
* Bring in a new leadership team - This hurts me. I love Steve, but if he can't boost the stock or keep his mouth shut once the stock goes up, time to bring in some one that can.

* Fire the entire Corporate Marketing department. I am SICK of getting kicked in the face by Apple every night on TV. Our Phone is Better than anything they are comming out with, but we hear nothing about it. Our Xbox360 can do alot more than their ITV. And it is time to shut up their stupid ads about the Mac vs the PC. IBM owns our ass on sporting event advertising. Google maps shows up on every news cast.

You cheap bastards, reach into that 60 billion dollar war chest and start spending. It is doing nothing for us now. If you are saving for a rainy day, you need to check the forecast in Redmond! I bet the forecast is for rain.

Who da'Punk said...

(1) Time for an experiment.
(2) No financial post this time; feel free to comment here on the financial results and I'll work to have a roll-up next week. In the meantime, Todd Bishop is very reliable and I hope that msftextrememakerover.blogspot.com does a summary soon, too.

Mini.

Anonymous said...

>"It is time for us to do something."

!!here here. I don't want to be alarmist or anything, but it should be obvious by now they are trying to do something. Kill stock value to make it cheaper to buy back, take the company private.

I think Bill is Jealous of Jobs ability to actually make money on a company that is not a monopoly, and I know he is jealous about going into outer space. Ya think? Darn if that stubborn bunny doesn't just keep on banging that drum and stay afloat at a uniform 28 degrees, plus or minus a few.

C'mon, Bill and Steve, you need to turn up the heat a little, do some more really stupid things to get it down to somewhere in the $10 range. Lets see what can we do? Oh, I know, lets hire an additional 10000 people to drink the starbucks. Oh yeah, you are already doing that.

Watch and learn people. Get yourself a couple of good books, Sherlock Holmes sagas, or Louis L'Amour' Taggart ain't bad.

I would be willing to bet that if everybody at Microsoft did that, brought books and sat at their desks reading and drinking starbucks all day, partner payouts would double this year.

jamie said...

;)

http://channel9.pikspot.com/assets/2007/04/24/9_Guy_Choir_We_Will_Rock_You.html

Anonymous said...

I bought stock in MSFT a couple of years ago at around $25 when I realized that as a user the company was pissing me off a lot less. I had upgraded to XP and when getting rid of my old windows 98 laptop realized that I'd never had to re-install windows.

Xbox seemed like it was headed in the right direction, it just seemed like whatever people would say about linux, (something which I hack on a lot), it's not going to displace windows on the desktop.

I also saw that the server stack is getting pretty comparable with solaris etc.

So the company is big and slow -- it's also grown up, and has a world of opportunities available to it in mobile, servers, etc.

Not long afterward I bought MSFT had that big dividend, so I'm pretty well ahead of the game. Not GOOG level returns, but respectable.

I bought a vista machine to run media center, and after some wrestling its working pretty well for watching broadcast HDTV.

Maybe it sucks to work there, but I think strategically microsoft really is in pretty good shape.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, all the people who wrote the crappy code received their stock options, cashed out and left.

Those of us there now are working like unpaid whores to fix the problems. It's incredibly frustrating. Many of our predecessors, the super smart college hires who could not code out of a box, should be sued for professional negligence, and have their excessive compensation returned to customers.


You are either a troll or a very green and naive new employee. As a stockholder I hope you are the former.

Anonymous said...

"You are either a troll or a very green and naive new employee. As a stockholder I hope you are the former."

Hmm, I don't see how he's a troll. The funniest thing about all the people that come here and yearn for the good old days is that they all seem to believe that they actually did good work in the "good old days". You gotta be kidding me. MS software in the "good old days" was pretty crappy. In fact, I would dare any "old timer" to say with a straight face that the quality of software MS produced back then is better than what is being produced today. Sure alot of MS's current software might still suck, but it most definitely sucks a WHOLE lot less than what we as consumers had to deal with in the "glory days".

Anonymous said...

Broke $30 after hours! Dumping the remaining options. Free money, baby! This is almost as exciting as finding a free lunch box or leftover pizza in a conference room. Oh, an occasional free stuck snack in the vending machine by shaking it is a true highlight of the day.

Oh, the pride and joy of lowered
expectations at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

You gotta be kidding me. MS software in the "good old days" was pretty crappy. In fact, I would dare any "old timer" to say with a straight face that the quality of software MS produced back then is better than what is being produced today.

Surely software evolves and (usually) improves with time. The current version of the Apple OS is far better than the first version of the Apple OS. Duh. So, I maintain, that anyone who is arguing otherwise is not very experienced in the business.

Meanwhile I'm sitting on the beach enjoying umbrella drinks, counting my millions, and waiting for you quality coders to produce. "The Wow Starts Now" so get to wowing. Sheesh. (Eyes rolling.)

Anonymous said...

How to increases Microsoft stock

Hires partners and pays millions dollars.

Promotes partners in group that lose money.

Creates new departments and VPs

Each VPs gets partner quoate

Lose more money promote more partners

All partner writes email and plans vision

Every partners get stock award

Creates hexagon. Finance tell HR. HR tell buz dev. Buz dev tell PM. PM tell dev. dev tell test. Test tell PM.

Increase stock and buys back.

Anonymous said...

Hang on for the ride tomorrow guys. It should start the day trading at $31. The magical number. People are going to buy in as MSFT will continue beating last year's number quarter by quarter for the next 3 quarters.

Net Profit up 65% !!! I'm not expecting an AMZN like effect but but the MSFT's result surely make it look like a growth company.

Yes. I'm the same guy that say BUY MSFT because it is 25% discount.

Anonymous said...

This is scary...First Hillel, then Julie, and now Tjreed...Yikes!
http://www.istartedsomething.com/20070427/tjeerd-hoek-leaves-microsoft

Anonymous said...

When one builds and supports premium hardware as a service, differentiation is an essential component. Servicing user technical, productivity and media usage needs is one way, but it is not enough - builders like us require Vista Ultimate and a steady and rich stream of Ultimate Extras.

"Microsoft, you need to stop classifying Ultimate Extras with national security secrecy and start giving out a road-map for what users should expect." - Published February 27th, 2007 by Long Zheng - in an article he wrote titled, "Is Windows Vista Ultimate Extras a sham?" [ Mr. Zeng nails that one, but doesn't touch on why as much as we all need to ]. REF: the "I started something" website - http://www.istartedsomething.com

Mr. Zeng offered that Digital Publications, essentially e-books, filled with Windows Vista secrets and tips, would be the next offering. http://www.flickr.com/photos/longzheng/349728965/

Ok, but as Mr. Zeng offered, many sites and programs like tweakvista have already covered this pretty well - as have sites like Paul Thurrott's, which present tips as submitted by dozens of users - all missing the main point here, "how are any of these tips 'extras'?"

Some speculate that access to games like, Geometry Wars will be offered - assuming of course that one game has some kind of universal appeal - it doesn't - it doesn't come close.

Ok, so what to do? What should Ultimate Extras offer? I reason that it should offer so much value that Windows Vista Ultimate would be without question, the must have version of Windows. Here's my list and the conditions that must attend the items on it:

First the rules: "Yes, I know... some items may be done with third party tools, but that is the point - such items need to be baked into Ultimate and as seamless and reliable as one would expect."

All Extras must be EXCLUSIVE and very hard to emulate by any other means and not available from Microsoft by any other means under any circumstances. - quite simply, make the words, "ultimate" and "extras" mean something.

All Ultimate Extras must be FREE of any additional fees.

Bundling apps like games, or anti-virus suites, or digital imaging apps is lame, lame, and even more LAME - while nice, it’s just a cost offset - again, Ultimate must have a larger meaning in the same way exclusive clubs do - people pay a great deal for exclusivity. So readily available software and features is a huge none starter [this is what I suspect is the problem with Ultimate and why we have not seen more of them!!!].

My List:
Exclusive Games that run only on Ultimate and no other version.

Dedicated online community for Ultimate owners with both moderated chat and content within the WMC's online spotlight geared for and toward Ultimate owners [Awin should have such a channel within its site - an Extras lounge, so to speak. I mean, I like Latch's comments most of the time, but there are times when I'd like to be around those that share my passion for Windows and elite hardware - I mean, defending why I like black coffee so much would become tiresome if it were necessary each time I topped off my mug.

A Vista Ultimate Icon Package and manager - to allow more options that add greater clarity to the user shell.

Online backup and restore and a private/personal domain for Ultimate users only - making remote access, backup and access to online files easy and consistent.

Tools for Ultimate owners supporting benchmarking, over clocking and systems building - again, all centered on and baked into Ultimate. [great opportunities for hardware and device manufacturers to participate here]

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth software to communicate with a small LCD pad, like large remote that leverages "SideShow" and exclusive SideShow Gadgets for Ultimate users - e.g., use your PC without being at a PC - sort of a tiny, hybrid SmartPanel.

Make Windows Vista Ultimate support multiple remote sessions - e.g., let me use my UMPC as an extension of my Windows Vista Ultimate PC at the same time the workstation is in use.
[see Ultimate SideShow recommendation above to see what I mean].

Create an Ultimate only online store populated with all the little things that users of Ultimate will want - like the small internal USB headers that support internal ReadyBoost drives. Sell the items at cost [we do that - man, you should have seen the MBA's lose their minds!!! I still smile about that - remember, it’s hardware as a service].

Include a voucher for a real book - an owners’ manual from Ultimate Extras nirvana that is only available to Ultimate owners and make it so good and so well illustrated that it would make any publisher weep - I suggest a nice leather cover.

Provide expert remote assistance help 24/7 at a single click. Bind this to a systems and user profile and invite the systems builders to support it. Offer online diagnostics and 24/7 next day drop shipping of spares for parts as needed.

Offer a casing service where Ultimate owners may ship their cases off to have a custom skin applied [once per license]. It's cheaper and easier than can be imagined.

Download priority and a customer download manager offering Ultimate owners the best possible online experience opposite Microsoft and Partner sites.

Create the Ultimate Personalization Pack for users to have unprecedented and reliable/consistent control over every aspect of the user shell with easy to access and use controls for the browser [let me move the dad gum tool bars
around]. Support the storage of the personalization profile in the online backup and restore as above – so we can ship it to the many new configurations we are much more likely to use.

Create a dedicated Ultimate owner call in for re-activation – we’re the users most likely to need it – if people violate terms, banish them from the club!

Create an Ultimate builders Guild and access to people building on Ultimate – make it dang hard to earn the right to be there.

Bundle a set of four case decals for Windows Ultimate and include these with the boxed sets so we can properly brand our rigs.

Bundle Smart Card access into Ultimate in ways that make it possible and easy for Ultimate owners to benefit from what larger corporations do. Make the head point for access to our private/personal Ultimate domains
and remote access part of this service. [we’ll buy the hardware and cards, but Microsoft will handle the back end].

I reason that not all of these suggestions practical – but being practical is not what Ultimate is about. Windows Vista Ultimate should be how people reward themselves for all their hard work and consistent devotion to the potential of the PC.
I do assess that if Microsoft were to offers these as Ultimate Extras, that a great deal more people would buy this version and a lot of positive buzz would be generated for Windows Vista. Microsoft very likely retains an incredible amount of passion, I think it has to be okay for them to express it again.

evden eve nakliye said...

thank you very very nıce thank you very very much...

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Microsoft Employee, but since you're talking about Windows Update, and that's something I spend a significant amount of time doing, I hope my comments will seem on topic.

The biggest single issue I see is the "Hotfixes". While I'll admit I've never gone this route, it appears that Joe User is supposed to call the help line, give a credit card number, get his problem diagnosed, and get the secret password for a hotfix, and get a refund- At least that's what the blurb at the end of the KB Articles that reference hotfixes suggests. I am fortunate enough to have access to a premiere service account, and it's simpler- But still overly complicated. Why can't my Passport account get to the hotfixes?

Perhaps, due to the nature of hotfixes, you want more control over the process. It's my opinion that both IT Departments and End Users have to go through too many hoops for this. Especially the part about "Credit Cards" and "may be able to obtain a refund". Scary, scary terms.

Secondly, I find it difficult, even with a premeire account, to get anyone to take it seriously when I do have an issue with a patch. Now, I don't experiance these problems often- Maybe a minor issue 2-3 times a year, a major one once a year or less. To use an example, 885250 caused problems listing files and folders on Network shares- Not all files or folders, not always the same ones. I had ~3000 machines with the issue. I could reproduce it on demand. I could uninstall the patch, it would work, I could reinstall, it would break. I could take a fresh install, add patches, it would work till 885250 hit. No one at Microsoft- TAG, Email Support, Phone Support, Newgroup- seemed to beleive us, and blamed an unnamed third party. Later, 896427 corrected the issue. It took ten months for this- If someone, anyone, had beleived us, it might've taken 1.

Failure Codes! Seriously, folks, Joe User doesn't know how to use Secedit or Regsvr32. Take a page from Comcast or AOL and do a "Fix it now" link here- I cobbled together a VBS script that fixes it 99% of the time in ten minutes, and I still keep "Hey, Scripting Guy" open when I pretend to write VBS scripts. You have interns smarter then me- Or you should! If you do that, I won't even mention summary screens that say "Update Failed" but won't say WHY.

Some things are annoying, but not broke- Just maybe could be better.

Waiting for several minutes for Windows Update to tell me I need a Service Pack. If I say no, I wait another couple of minutes to get the list of needed patches. Is this really the best use of resources?

Why does SMS appear when I do Microsoft Update, but it won't tell me Service Pack 2 is out?

Multiple Reboots- When a system has been sitting offline for a few months at work, or a friend asks me why his computer is running slow at home, it's pretty common to have to download 32 patches, reboot, go back to Microsoft Update, run it again, get 53 patches, etc. If I absolutely have to do multiple reboots, can't we at least send the entire list of patches the first time, instead of making me watch that bar 3 or 4 times?

High Priority Verus Optional- No one is every going to agree on this. We often put optional patches on the WSUS Server with very short expiration times, and leave off certain high priority patches. Worry about Grandma and Joe User with this, not techs.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, an earnings report that squashed the naysayers here and has the slashdot crowd screeching in denial. In the words of SteveB, "I LOVE THIS COMPANY!"

Keeperplanet said...

>"but it is not enough - builders like us require Vista Ultimate and a steady and rich stream of Ultimate Extras."

Nice set of potential features, but I have a few suggestions on improving the list. Which sells more: a product that is rich in features and high(er) in price or a product that is rich in features and low in price? Corrolary: which one makes more money? (use car manufacturers, Japanese vs American styles of marketing to help you get a picture of what I mean).

Do the math. Apple sells rich content, high quality premium (relatively high price) products and is under ten percent of computer market share. Microsoft (used to) sell medium quality rich content products at entry level pricing and owns 90% of the market.

The failed belief that premium content should sell for more money only knocks out those who cannot afford to buy and in this market forces them to use products like Linux and on line apps. If you look at the parts in expensive vs cheaper watches, they are usually the same parts, just different style and marketing. Certainly using Live as a source of downloadable free increased performance to windows would achieve two things: give Live more net visibility and increase customer satisfaction in increasing usability of Windows.

If Microsoft wants to perform like a growth company for another ten years, then the only option when selling an over the shelf commodoty like product is to lower prices, increase quality, performance and features.

And if Bill is going to sell software for $3.60 to the third world, I want mine too. In other words, would it not be wiser to just opensource legacy products, starting with Win98, NT, Win2000? Just a thought. I actually consider Win2k to be a superior choice to Vista in a lot of ways, performance, usability, etc. That and more actions of increasing OS interoperability with Linux, OSX an others would go a long way toward creating the most valuable and least recognized component in assessing company value: Good Will. And yes, good will is actually a part of calculating a company's growth potential, and is taught in basic economic theory as important to growth and value determination.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, would it not be wiser to just opensource legacy products, starting with Win98, NT, Win2000? Just a thought."

No. That would be fatal. For example, that code could then be put into Linux to make it more user friendly. Additionally, under the GPL, a claim could then be made on current products where some of that code is still incorporated. The answer is more compelling products, not lower prices per se. The latter is required in some emerging markets, but not in mature ones. I also disagree that you can't have more expensive premium versions as well. Numerous products do. What you can't do is provide just okay products for way more money and way more hardware investment.

Anonymous said...

>> squashed the naysayers

Dude, you must be reading someone else's earnings report. Because the one I've read says the bump is artificial and it was created by accounting for revenues from last year. And if we remove that, 17% growth is left. While not too shabby, it pales in comparison to what AAPL and AMZN have posted.

I'd love to drink your kool-aid, but historically, I'd say your optimism is unjustified. I can wash five times more money off AAPL per year than you'll get by staying long in MSFT.

Anonymous said...

No. That would be fatal. For example, that code could then be put into Linux to make it more user friendly.

Have you seen Ubuntu recently? It's pretty darn user friendly - the first Linux good enough for grandma. I don't think the Linux folks need old MS code to "improve" the Linux desktop.

Anonymous said...

With the good earning report, SteveB is here to stay. Why is it a bad thing to see people who created most of the craps in Windows go?

Anonymous said...

"Have you seen Ubuntu recently? It's pretty darn user friendly - the first Linux good enough for grandma. I don't think the Linux folks need old MS code to "improve" the Linux desktop."

Yes, have it loaded. Linux could still learn a ton about user friendly from MSFT. But that's really besides the point and off-topic from the GPL issue and MSFT.

Anonymous said...

Surely software evolves and (usually) improves with time. The current version of the Apple OS is far better than the first version of the Apple OS. Duh. So, I maintain, that anyone who is arguing otherwise is not very experienced in the business.

Many software projects improve over time but a problem with Microsoft software is that it tends to develop sideways.

It is good engineering practice to do the smallest amount of work possible to make the biggest improvements possible.

At Microsoft, there are too many people clamoring to do the opposite. Because of overhiring and our review system, every employee strives to develop the biggest and most complicated new features possible. Hardly any effort is spent improving, reusing, fixing, or even finishing old features.

Consequently, Microsoft software is full of overlapping APIs, "platforms," user interfaces, driver models, etc., and none of it has the polish that comes from years/decades of use and small incremental improvements (see: Apple, Linux, etc.).

Anonymous said...

"Consequently, Microsoft software is full of overlapping APIs, "platforms," user interfaces, driver models, etc., and none of it has the polish that comes from years/decades of use and small incremental improvements (see: Apple, Linux, etc.).
"

Wow Linux has no overlapping API's, platforms and user interfaces?

Keeperplanet said...

You said >"No. That would be fatal. For example, that code could then be put into Linux to make it more user friendly. Additionally, under the GPL, a claim could then be made on current products where some of that code is still incorporated."

OK, so keep the license proprietary, nobody is asking you to become socialists. But open it up for free or near free use. Sell the add ons or accessories or collect a royalty to allow others to do the same. The point is the world markets don't fit your Vista model, but go from 0 value to customers to somewhere in between.

You said >"The answer is more compelling products, not lower prices per se. The latter is required in some emerging markets, but not in mature ones."

Whatever you say. You just keep down that path and in five years we will talk again and see who was right. I would assume you know what a price point is. It is a different world and market dynamic now. It has nothing to do with maturity, it has to do with reality, like the boomer generation suddenly being in a totally different economic reality these days, or the third world really being markets of multiple economic levels. From Russia to the Congo all flavors all need levels. Microsoft has traditionally tried to criminalize users in those markets instead of serving them. The price point models would be in the dozens depending on the economy of targeted market.

You said >"I also disagree that you can't have more expensive premium versions as well. Numerous products do."

I did not say not to serve the premium markets, I said there is not nearly as much money in them as in serving the masses. Microsoft cannot sustain itself at current overhead levels just selling to premium market channels. BTW, the way to sell to premium channels is the IBM way, with services added, not with the thing you buy over the counter or download to install on your computer.

You said >"What you can't do is provide just okay products for way more money and way more hardware
investment"

Well, we at least agree on one thing. So your justification for Vista is what? I guess what you are confused about is it has not sunk in to you yet that Vista is viewed by customers as less than just ok. It is flat out dysfunctional, slower than snails. It is also a nightmare in its execution your poorly perceived legal responsibilities toward MCA, MPAA and RIAA. Most of us know better and we know the difference between crap and something we can use and want.

Heck, what do I know, I'm just a lowly industrial designer who thinks Microsoft Marketing and the way it is shaping products, product vision is so misdirected, it is the number one reason why the performance is as bad as it is. And don't try to tell me the earnings report was positive. That would be head in the sand spin. Marketing starts with deciding to serve customers first.

Anonymous said...

Just dumped all my options and a whole bunch of stock now that MS hit 30+. I had to get rid of the options anyway since I recently left the mothership and I only had 3 months to exercise...

As a side note: There is life on the other side! I have kept in touch with my old peers and teammates and according to them it keeps on getting worse...

emlak said...

thank you very nice topic, thankks:)

Anonymous said...

"MSFT to me is 25% discount right now."

Not with current management, it's not. MS is heading for a loss of 40 to 50% of shareholder's equity, just like IBM did when they tanked in the 1980's. IBM had Lou Gerstner to pull them out of the dive. Who does MSFT have? Ray Ozzie? J Allard? Some other poseur of the week?

Sell them short. If you want to buy MSFT, do it when Ballmer gets kicked out, and not a minute before.

Anonymous said...

This is scary...First Hillel, then Julie, and now Tjreed...Yikes!
http://www.istartedsomething.com/20070427/tjeerd-hoek-leaves-microsoft


Er, scary for who? Windows Core has already moved on.

Anonymous said...

At Microsoft, there are too many people clamoring to do the opposite. Because of overhiring and our review system, every employee strives to develop the biggest and most complicated new features possible.

Amen. Too much emphasis on rushing the latest hot new feature out the door for brownie points at review time and not enough emphasis on cleaning up the potholes and piles of crap left over from rushing the last hot new feaatures out the door. Is it any wonder that people are disenchanted with our products?

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"And don't try to tell me the earnings report was positive. That would be head in the sand spin."

Does that mean you saw it as just neutral or actually negative?

Keeperplanet said...

>"Does that mean you saw it as just neutral or actually negative?"

Yes, here is why:

a)actual growth was under 20% by a few points due to inclusion of data from last year's enterprise release, and redemption coupons (under 20% is expected revenue from a large conglomerate and is healthy, but not outstanding). and

b) Considering Microsoft has been waiting for five to seven years for the Vista/Longhorn bump, this is devastating news.

Now, if the stock continues to trend above the Dow and Nasdaq on a steady ramp for the next three to five years, say, kicking up to 60 or 70, then I will admit I am wrong. The bump topped at 30.12 Friday and is likely caused by people desperate to get out while they can. I hope I am wrong, for sake of all the investors out there, but I don't think so.

In my note above, I did not really emphasize the future impact of the absolute unstoppable trend toward on line apps with all of them creating an off line mode--and there are many more than just Google, especially in enterprise. Microsoft has all the cards to lose at this point because it cannot focus on where it is going. As an industrial designer I know that the old adage of 'perception is everything' is skin deep and will burn of by real competition in the end.

Anonymous said...

The bump topped at 30.12 Friday

Funny, I sold at $30.23 on Friday. I guess I'm over the top.

Anonymous said...

jamie/pikspot - your constant self-promotion is way off-topic, if you don't have anything to comment on then could you refrain from publicising your photoshop experiments?

Anonymous said...

Follow-up on Dawn-Marie - her old manager was Julie Solon. Have a look at the latest job req. opened under Julie Solon - programmer/writer LEVEL 61! Dawn-Marie was LEVEL 61! Stubbing out reference pages! Sign me up for some of that easy money, I'll do it while I'm working out in the morning.

Anonymous said...

A poster said: "Follow-up on Dawn-Marie - ... Dawn-Marie was LEVEL 61! Stubbing out reference pages! Sign me up for some of that easy money, I'll do it while I'm working out in the morning."

Now, now, anonymous. Were you that curious about Dawn Marie that you looked her up in the GAL and checked who she worked for? Why did that matter? Also, why mention the name of a first-line manager in an external forum?

As a programmer/writer, I disagree with your characterization of our work. In many cases, going back into an MS dev's code and doing enough archaeology to create a reference page is not a task for the faint of heart or technically weak. We have to untangle WHATEVER the dev, desperate to prove how smart s/he is by using 5 layers of indirect function pointers, putting stuff that should NEVER be in C++ destructor functions into them, creating their own memory management system because Windows' wasn't optimal for one odd case in their code, etc., creates.

We have to make enough sense out of API designs to explain them to customers, whether those APIs were designed by a framework wizard or some new PM just out of school whose manager wanted to give them a "stretch" experience. Many of us also write code, developing against those APIs and filing bugs when our programs doesn't work as expected. Oh, and don't forget that our job entails communicating in understandable, grammatically correct English, a skill that fewer and fewer MS devs have nowadays.

What MOST programmer/writer jobs have is less pressure and better work-life balance than their corresponding dev jobs, because writing deadlines usually aren't as hard and fast, and the consequences of getting writing work wrong usually aren't as great. That said, there are at least two programmer/writer teams, of those I know, whose project schedules are worse than those of almost every dev team I know at Microsoft. Former devs have run screaming from those teams' projects because of the pressure.

You may know some programmer/writers who have it as easy as you say. Some do. But please be careful about assuming that what's true of some is true of all. The last thing we need is a bunch of lazy people thinking, "Hey, programmer/writer is an easy job! I'll do that so I don't have to work hard." Just like on dev teams, picking up the slack from such people is a PITA to other competent team members, with the only consolation being that at least we know who'll get tagged with "Limited."

Anonymous said...

actual growth was under 20% by a few points due to inclusion of data from last year's enterprise release, and redemption coupons (under 20% is expected revenue from a large conglomerate and is healthy, but not outstanding).

At present growth of the respective companies, Valleywag has Google passing Microsoft in market value in 2014. We'll see. There is a low-tech analogy. Netflix blew past Blockbuster w/ innovation. Blockbuster, the incumbent recanted. Now, besides dumping late fees, Blockbuster is letting direct mail customers come into the store to pick up and drop off DVD. Attractive, but is it too little too late? And what of brand? Will consumers deliberately click out of Vista's default "Live" search to go to Google? Is so, then how safe is a 90% monopoly on the destop (when the desktop may have already moved to the ether?) No telling, but without building search from the ground up and launching adcenter, Microsoft was good and truly dead. I wouldn't buy more MSFT but given that fact that they aren't going to roll over and die, at what point do you start pricing value into the shares? Today?

Anonymous said...

>Will consumers deliberately click out of Vista's default "Live" search to go to Google?

Interesting you should bring that up. I use Firefox and Live search is not on the default choice list, but just to be fair, lately, I have been running three searches when looking up data, Live, Google and Yahoo. Try it. Yahoo usually finds the data the others don't and it finds more relevant data. hmmm.

Keeperplanet said...

>"given that fact that they aren't going to roll over and die, at what point do you start pricing value into the shares? Today?"

The ships captains need to first admit the mammoth tanker is taking on water in the lower holds and it will only take one good storm to sink her, especially if she's fully loaded (with personnel).

Anonymous said...

Mini, have you considered calling on the partners to share exactly what they have done to develop Microsoft's business? If they have done such dazzling things, why not share so others can follow the example?

Anonymous said...

Bring up employee names at random and attempt to cast them in whatever light you want, but nobody "out here" knows what the hell you're talking about. There would be no need for programmer writers if programmers, per se, knew how to write. Go Dawn.

emlak said...

thank you very nice topic, thanks (:

Anonymous said...

Wow Linux has no overlapping API's, platforms and user interfaces?

Sure it does. But so what? Because at least one of two main platform competitors to Windows is a fragmented shambles, is it OK for Microsoft to keep Windows the same way? "We suck, but so do they, so it's OK"

Beyond that, Linux is open source, which theoretically means that if some bright dev sees a better way, they can do it without being part of the creating group. MS, on the other hand, keeps the source to itself, which means the pool of available brains is sharply limited. I don't mean you don't hire smart people - you do - but those smart people then have to get through all the bureaucracy and nonsense exposed here and elsewhere to fix things, and it's clear MS isn't interested in fixing things but just in keeping things running and adding stuff. After all, who would pay for a new release of Windows that doesn't add shiny stuff, but just makes things run better and easier to fix?

I don't think there's any hope of MS "fixing" Windows while the model is "create giant code blob, release with great fanfare and shiny boxes every 5 years." But I don't know how survivable that model is anymore. The question is, how do you create a model of continuous integration that works for an OS, and lets MS put customers like me on an annual subscription instead of hundreds of dollars for massive new code blob? It would seem that a ground-up rearchitecture would be needed, with particular focus on extreme compartmentalization to allow for later continuous change without sacrificing stability.

I wonder if anyone at MS has ever quantified internally how much $$$ you spend on maintenance to unravel/work around previous compromises, hacks, brittlenesses, and so on? How much time it costs technical writers (I enjoyed the post about that above) to plough through brittle, excessively nested code? What else could be done with those $$$?

Ah well, at this point it's probably more likely that the whole mess will be resolved in an unforeseen way, through "creative destruction" rather than steady improvement. MS simply has too much invested in its current modus operandi, at least with this leadership. And that's why I don't own any MSFT anymore.

Keeperplanet said...

>There is a low-tech analogy. Netflix blew past Blockbuster w/ innovation.

Interesting you should bring up examples of companies that were but aren't any longer. I think the saga of PMTC (Parametric Technologies) and SolidWorks (Dassault Systemes) is a good one that comes to mind.

In 1998, PMTC, better known as the maker of Pro-Engineer solid modeling was at the peak of its game, running on UNIX, having dominated the CAD market with the first commercial parametric 3d modeling software. Truly the stuff of disruptive technology as it dominated the high end CAD market after trouncing then buying up its
competitors, i.e., the megalith Computervision and others. Pro Engineer was not cheap, costing around $25,000 to $60,000 per seat with all the trimmings.

Along comes SolidWorks (Dassault Systemes DASTY) a struggling parametric modeling software company started by a few ex PMTC gurus. SolidWorks brought on a disruption to the CAD industry revolution by enabling hundreds
of thousands of engineers and designers at lower cost ($3999 for the base package), being better, faster, cheaper and more responsive and it ran on NT.

The killer feature of SolidWorks which was not properly understood by the follow on SolidWorks executive management was the integration of industrial design (CAID) and engineering CAD and manufacturing (CADM), all rolled up into one package, with no extra add ons required, starting in 1998 with SolidWorks 98 plus. Pro Engineer required an extra $10k to run an industrial design module, and it was cumbersome and difficult to use.

The point of the story is that in the summer of '98 PMTC dropped $40 billion off its market cap in about a week because SolidWorks was recognized by the analysts as the new kid on the block. The event was fueled by really nasty sales tactics by Parametric over many years which the CUSTOMERS got tired of, and by a rapidly overburdened PMTC structure from acquisitions of its legacy competitors which did not really add that much to its long term value as a company.

Today, things are swinging back for PMTC,dropped its pricing to meet SolidWorks (sort of) and it rebuilt it's software to run on Windows or Linux, rebuilding its UI to improve the user experience. SolidWorks or DASTY made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on acquiring Autodesk customers, cheapening the UX with crappy integration while not focusing enough on the integration of ID and ME enough to offset the PMTC comeback--most of which has been corrected.

The hotspot has moved on to PLM (product life cycle management) in the manufacturing space and the collaboration links to the software, so the solid modeling wars are more of a skirmish now.

Lots of relevant lessons for Microsoft, Google and others there.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous programmer/writer:

If you were as technical as you suggest, you'd be an SDE, no question. There is NO ONE at MSFT that would select a career as programmer/writer over SDE. Why? The programmer/writer job ladder ends about 10 levels below the SDE ladder. If you care at all about your career and you're able to take on an SDE role, you'd be insane to stay in the programmer/writer role.

Second, the documentation that MSFT cranks out is useless. Please, take it from someone who has to use the documentation on a regular basis. I very rarely use MSFT's documentation, I rely on Google and the kindness of others. Why do we even have documentation teams when they could easily be replaced by a big ol' Windows Wikipedia authored by our users? Our users already do a lion's share of the work finding bugs and documenting them as it is.

Third: why did I post D-M's manager's name? I want people to go LOOK and see for themselves what's going on in these teams. Shining a light on the dark corners of the company, so to speak. And, frankly, I can't believe that you people are as a high a level as you are. Ridiculous how much money disappears down that black hole.

Anonymous said...

RE: There is NO ONE at MSFT that would select a career as programmer/writer over SDE....If you care at all about your career and you're able to take on an SDE role, you'd be insane to stay in the programmer/writer role.

Either you're wrong or I'm insane (although, I suppose they could both be true).

What you're missing is that career success is not always defined by how fast or how far you climb the career ladder.

To each his (or her) own. Enjoy your climb. I hope you find everything you're looking for.

Anonymous said...

Wow Linux has no overlapping API's, platforms and user interfaces?

Sure it does.


Depends on how you look at it. The Linux kernel itself is programmed using a small set of POSIX functions that have been more or less stable since they were introduced in 1988. (And arguably before then in the form of the Unix conventions.)

Linux distributions (not the operating system itself) come with a large amount of extra software, some of it overlapping and some of it interdependent but an argument can be made that all of this software is not the actual operating system; sort of like how the ability to run 2 different word processors on Windows doesn't make it bad. If you don't like one particular shell or window manager or media player, it is fairly easy to switch it out for another and much of the rest of your software will remain unaffected. This is the modularity that people talk about and that Windows doesn't have.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see what some of Microsoft's competition is like, check out the set of talks on oplc that was posted today at http://www.olpctalks.com/

These guys are charging ahead at a thousand miles an hour.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous writes again: "If you were as technical as you suggest, you'd be an SDE, no question."

Noooo-hooo, I wouldn't. Most "SDE's" at Microsoft spend an unfortunately small amount of their week writing code, and much of their techical challenge is in integration with The Whole. I don't find the latter to be fun. Might I be an SDE outside of Microsoft where I can crank out code for 50 hours a week and get my results out the door in 90 days rather than 3+ years? Yes. That was my career before joining MS. I had worked my way up to the subsystem architect level elsewhere before I decided that it might be interesting to use a wider variety of my skills to improve something that most of us agree can be problematic (MS docs). If it really was that simple a problem to solve, MS would have already solved it.

"There is NO ONE at MSFT that would select a career as programmer/writer over SDE."

Bone up on your research and/or social engineering skills. There are multiple blue-badge SDE's who have switched to the programmer/writer track.

"Why? The programmer/writer job ladder ends about 10 levels below the SDE ladder."

SDE goes eight levels beyond partner minimum (to avoid being specific)? Interesting. So you're planning on being a LisaB-level partner, I guess. I'm not.

"If you care at all about your career and you're able to take on an SDE role, you'd be insane to stay in the programmer/writer role."

Maybe, maybe not. Rather than making this about programming writer, I'll make this about the SDE superiority complex. SDE is not the end-all and be-all for very technical FTE's that many think it is. At Microsoft, SDE's have a more limited role than they do at other companies, and not everyone enjoys that. Many do, and they excel as SDE's at MS. Smaller companies often combine all technical functions within their SDE role, and yes, that includes writing API documentation. On average, Microsoft SDE's probably have a better career trajectory than other disciplines, but there are outlyers in unusual places like product planner, competitive analyst, technical PM and even programmer/writer, and a rock star who can do more one thing well knows how to find them and leverages their skills to add value.

Remember the concept of a "Microsoft hire." Microsoft tries to hire for total company value, not for a specific position title. There are people in this company who can do many things, and whose current position is the one that they choose to do at that time, for whatever reason they make that choice. Sometimes it's work/life balance, sometimes it's an opportunity unlikely to come around again, sometimes it's just a desire to have in one's review record proof that one is good at some other skill that requires different competencies than their core role, because of how they hope to direct their career somewhere down the road. It's fallacious to argue that a person's position indicates merely what they can do, because that's only true part of the time.

"Second, the documentation that MSFT cranks out is useless. [omitted] I very rarely use MSFT's documentation, I rely on Google and the kindness of others."

That is true of some of our docs for me too.

"Why do we even have documentation teams when they could easily be replaced by a big ol' Windows Wikipedia authored by our users? Our users already do a lion's share of the work finding bugs and documenting them as it is."

Part of why: Not all customers envision a wiki filled with unvetted content, much of which is only partially correct or outright wrong, as the answer.

Anonymous said...

Questions for LisaB:

1. MS has an incredibly difficult time hiring and retaining women at the L65+ non-partner levels / roles. The average "shelf life" of a women hired from outside at these levels is just over 12 months according to inside HR sources. They wait for the relo repayment to expire, take the first stock vest and leave. What are we doing about this?

2. MS has focused so much on "development" of senior L68+ people and with myMicrosoft and additional training focused on the L64- crowd (with varying opinions of success) but we're losing L64-67 people in droves which does not bode well for prospects of L64- people. What are we doing about this?

3. If you could tell SteveB to do 3 things - what would you say?

4. Rumor has it KT doesn't listen to anybody, including you. If that is true, how are we going to clean up the matrixed people mess we have in SMSG?

5. How many out of court settlements for harrasment and HR "violations" has MS settled in the last 5 years and what was the cost?

I could go on and on... I guess my last one would be - I've worked for other companies where the management accountability was far, far higher than at MS. Do you think management accountability has anything to do with our hiring and retention issues as well as the stock price?

Anonymous said...

I've finally found a Wii in a B&M store today. Anyone who thinks that Xbox360 will win the console race needs to buy a Wii. If I were in Xbox, I'd start looking for another job right about now, because by EOY2007 it will be obvious how devastating our defeat is. To date they've sold 6.6M consoles, despite the fact you can't buy one. And they've made money on each and every thing they sell.

The entire family had a lot of fun just playing the games included in the box, and our ages range from 3 years to 30+. My 3 year old could play golf and boxing without any learning curve, and I find this impressive. My wife, who normally is not interested in games spent 40 minutes playing Wii Sports. And I, a dyed in the wool MSFT blue badge haven't had this much fun with computer games since I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

>>To date they've sold 6.6M consoles, despite the fact you can't buy one. And they've made money on each and every thing they sell.

That's because they view it as a game market and keep the price at levels families can afford and keep the game content more for kids and young adults.

Microsoft will eventually find a humongous market just selling games for PC's, PS3's and Wii's, but mostly in the PC market. For Microsoft, its the software stupid.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it KT doesn't listen to anybody, including you. If that is true, how are we going to clean up the matrixed people mess we have in SMSG?

Rumor ++

Having worked with KT in a previous life, he definitely has "his way" to "go do" things. I expect a KT crony will end up in the old billv role, making us more like Wal-Mart / Sam's Club ...

I'm curious as to your SMSG comment. I'm in SMSG and find the org (the parts I deal with anyway) to be relatively efficient, especially with the change from the vertical sales teams back to purely geographic teams. It was a good idea, but a poor implementation. The tweak will help our customers and our people a lot.

Speaking of SMSG, during MSNA all-hands Q&A, some HQ sales overhead asked a question that began with "being in the field"... Note to corporate HQ - you are NOT in the field. That's why they call you corporate HQ...

nff

Anonymous said...

>> keep the game content more for kids and young adults

I guess this dude qualifies as a "young adult" then:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=xhlGJ_WQ_GM

Search Youtube for Wii, you'll see a bunch of people from 2 to "farting dust" years old playing the damn thing. Casual gaming is where it's at, my friend. Nintendo addresses this market with DS and Wii. Sony does it with PSP. We don't do it at all.

Anonymous said...

>>Search Youtube for Wii, you'll see a bunch of people from 2 to "farting dust"

Who said age has anything to do with being a young adult. Farting dust. That's a great line. In my beyond fifties level, btw, I've been farting dust for some time now, I guess. Wouldn't buy a console, would buy a cool controller for my PC. Would buy Halo3 for my pc this year, if not available, would not buy Halo at all to spite MS Marketing's crap leveraging to get me to put down cash for one of those crappy PowerPC cpu computers they sell. get real.

Anonymous said...

... one of those crappy PowerPC cpu computers they sell...

It's interesting how things worked out, in that suddenly all the PowerPC problems are Microsoft's problems and not Apple's, and all the Intel advantages are now shared between the two companies.

It's pretty obvious who's benefiting and who's paying a price for that series of maneuvers. Even if there were no other examples, that's a pretty blatant contrast in managerial acumen.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft will eventually find a humongous market just selling games for PC's, PS3's and Wii's, but mostly in the PC market. For Microsoft, its the software stupid.

Considering that's the complete opposite of the approach MGS is trying now, I think "eventually" is far enough away that you should be referring to the PS5 and the Wii3.

Anonymous said...

>that's a pretty blatant contrast in managerial acumen

And Jobs managerial acumen is also on the verge of massive error, but thanks to MS lack of vision he is succeeding regardless. I.e., subscription vs buying songs. Which is better. Leave it to Microsoft to turn an opportunity into a mistake. And the strategy of hardware and software bundled together is a limited market, but leave it to MS to try and copy a less strategic strategy.

>>I think "eventually" is far enough away that you should be referring to the PS5 and the Wii3.

You never know. An analyst can rip the bottom out of stupid management and a company's market cap in seconds. At some point they will wake up, unless of course, MS keeps making money.

Anonymous said...

... subscription vs buying songs. Which is better.

Buying songs is better.

The "rental model" for movies obviously works; not everyone wants a library of movies (with the implied repeat viewings, etc.) But everyone wants their own copies of their favorite music. The market has shown this quite clearly, over the decades.

It's not just that the "record collector" concept is older than the "movie collector" concept; it's that music is intrinsically made for repeat listenings and "whims" that make you want to hear three minutes and five seconds of beloved sound while you're driving or running or emptying the dishwasher.

Anyway, doesn't iTunes' success prove this?

Alex said...

Why am I a MSFT shareholder? Because I saw it dipping under $22 last summer (as Ballmer was mouthing about all kinds of huge and crazy investments), and I said to myself, NO WAY, this stock just has GOT to be worth $30 plus, long run, no matter how stupidly Ballmer and friends squander money -- so I put what liquids I had at the time where my mouth was. Just a few thousand shares, as most of my money's already solidly invested elsewhere, but, enough to give me a substantial stake.


Why am I still holding the stock, now that it's at what I consider its correct value of $30+? Taxes -- I don't wanna pay 35% when I can lower it to 15% by just holding tight 2 for 2 more months. Once I can get reasonable tax rates, as long as the stock is above $30, I'll sell... unless Ballmer has stepped down in the meantime, which looks rather unlikely. Some stocks (and companies) are doomed by CEO's that just aren't with it -- as an investor, I'd range YHOO there as well as MSFT. Look what a difference a change of CEO made to HP stock... wish I'd gotten me some of that, but I didn't see it coming in time, ah well.


A change of CEO (and strategic direction) might easily and rapidly push MSFT to $35 or more, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that -- it's just too chancy, sorry.


Alex

Anonymous said...

There is NO ONE at MSFT that would select a career as programmer/writer over SDE.

Interesting to find this comment today, since I'm considering the switch from IC-SDE to programmer / writer.

Reasons driving this:
1) Part-time job sharing.
2) Plan to retire and return to writing fiction.

As far as the career advancement issues, I simply don't care. I am financially secure (was so before joining MS), so greed does not drive me.

In the old days at MS, we all focused on building great software, no one appreciated the option grants at the time, it was the code that was interesting.

It's sad to see that greed has become the focus today at MS, more money at whatever cost. Our customers are the worse for it. The only solice I find is the Mac I am using to write this. That eco system remains vibrant, the future looks bright for the many smaller software companies doing very innovative products for the Mac platform.

Anonymous said...

SteveSi? SteveSi!!!??? talk about a raving lunatic!!! listents to no one, the guy thinks he is Napoleon; is painful as W-org was/is, what SteveSi is doing is just nasty. There are MANY people that will NEVER, EVER work in any SteveSi ever again after what is going on in Live. Oh, that Berkowitch Idiot has to go too, what a waste of perfectly good office space the marketing org is...

Anonymous said...

I personally know a partner, have worked on and off with him several times during the last 3 years. So I have first hand experience.

This person is simply outstanding. Not the kind of outstanding common at Microsoft, I've met plenty of that. This person is more along the lines of Anders Hejlsberg.

A couple of years ago he/she joins our group, and starts coding. Next thing I know she's invented a new technology, written a working prototype, and is suddenly both evangelizing, including it in our product, and the best sign of all, having it ripped off by other Partners who claim they invented it.

Like I said, I've only met one Partner and I met this person 1st hand, before they were promoted to partner. We are incredibly lucky to have this person at MS, losing them to Google, Yahoo, Apple, etc. would deal a sever blow to our ability to innovate.

In fact, this partner proved to me that there is hope that some of the partners are actually adding value. I am sure there are others of dubious value and contribution. But that's the nature of things, so I accept it.

The one place where I see partners not actually pulling their weight, and adding value, is at the executive leadership level. The people responsible for allowing that to continue are the Board and Bill, and there is absolutely zero anyone can do about that.

Anonymous said...

There are people in this company who can do many things, and whose current position is the one that they choose to do at that time, for whatever reason they make that choice.

Oh, I understand completely now. Microsoft is here to indulge you. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can just go hide in a documentation group and collect L61 salary and benefits. Like I said, if you could be an SDE, you'd be an SDE. Your rationalization of why anyone would intentionally choose a LIMITED career path when a career path that leads at least 10 levels higher (name a programmer/writer partner for me - can't? now name an SDE partner for me...) is just - well - sad, and typical of the problems the company faces right now. You think Microsoft is here to serve you and your whims instead of you working as hard as you possibly can to provide the most value you can.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that one programmer/writer or technical writer costs the company $200k a year in salary, benefits, resources, etc. Let's further assume there are 1000 programmer/writers, technical writers, editors, and tools and production people. $200,000/year x 1000 = $200,000,000. Conservatively. So, MSFT spends $200,000,000 on documentation, the one thing that is demonstrably handled better by the user community and Google, our competition.

Trust me when I tell you these numbers are not lost on senior and executive management. Imagine the effect on the stock if we were to cut $200 million/year in costs...

Anonymous said...

>> Plan to retire and return to writing fiction.

Dude, after a year you will HATE writing. Just like you probably hate coding by now. I used to have side projects, and there were some pretty good ones, too. These days, I can't wait to shut down Visual Studio and go home.

Make writing a hobby, not your job.

Anonymous said...

There were very interesting questions in Satya's all hands meeting today.

Satya is an imbecile, we're so glad he left Dynamics. Anyone with more than 2 aligned neurons can do a better job than him.

On the other hand, CRM lost the best executive that I've seen at Microsoft: David Thacher. I've seen Mini comment about many people that've left MS, but this is one guy we should not let go.
But we kept Satya, a thousand-mettings-zero-action kind of executive.

That's the source of good part of our problems: keeping useless managers, getting rid of the good ones.

Anonymous said...

It just hit me the other day as I was ruminating on Steve Jobs and how well Apple is doing.

Jobs loves technology.
Ballmer loves money.

So

Apple churns out cool technology.
Microsoft churns out internal processes to make the sales.

Anybody thinks we need a change at the top?

Anonymous said...

SteveSi? SteveSi!!!??? talk about a raving lunatic!!! listents to no one, the guy thinks he is Napoleon; is painful as W-org was/is, what SteveSi is doing is just nasty.

I can only guess that you're basing this in heresay. I've had meetings with SteveSi (3 or 4 over the last year), and he's by far the most honest, open and sincere executive I've ever met anywhere, and *no* I'm not a partner :-(

Anonymous said...

http://biz.yahoo.com/seekingalpha/070430/33932_id.html?.v=1
Microsoft last week announced quarterly revenue of $14.4 billion and net income of $4.93 billion. In other words, Microsoft's daily net income is about $55 million. That's $55 million in pure profit every 24 hours. Do some quick math and you'll learn it takes Microsoft only about...

• 10 hours or so (yes, hours!) to exceed Red Hat's (NYSE: RHT - News) quarterly net income of $20.5 million.
• four days to exceed Research In Motion's (NasdaqGS: RIMM) quarterly net income of $187.9 million.
• four days to exceed Starbucks' (NasdaqGS: SBUX) quarterly net income of $205 million.
• one week to exceed Nike's (NYSE: NKE - News) quarterly net income of $350.8 million.
• two weeks to exceed McDonalds' (NYSE: MCD - News) quarterly net income of $762 million.
• two weeks to exceed Apple's (NasdaqGS: AAPL) quarterly net income of $770 million.
• 18 days to exceed Google's (NasdaqGS: GOOG) quarterly net income of $1 billion.
• 23 days to exceed Coca-Cola's (NYSE: KO - News) quarterly net income of $1.26 billion.
• five weeks to exceed IBM's (NYSE: IBM - News) quarterly net income of $1.85 billion.
• 10 weeks to exceed Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT - News) quarterly net income of $3.9 billion. For a dead company, Microsoft's profits certainly look lively.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, I understand completely now. Microsoft is here to indulge you. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can just go hide in a documentation group and collect L61 salary and benefits. Like I said, if you could be an SDE, you'd be an SDE. Your rationalization of why anyone would intentionally choose a LIMITED career path when a career path that leads at least 10 levels higher (name a programmer/writer partner for me - can't? now name an SDE partner for me...) is just - well - sad, and typical of the problems the company faces right now. You think Microsoft is here to serve you and your whims instead of you working as hard as you possibly can to provide the most value you can."

This is just... incredibly naive and insulting to more than half of the company. and I'm reasonably far along the PM path with a decent shot at continuing on up the ladder, thanks very much.

You might as well say the same thing about Usability -- I sure have wondered why anyone would want the wretched life that's Usability at a company like Microsoft, where you're generally treated like crap and ignored. But guess what? Usability is all about the good fight, and it's really important, and it's hella interesting even here at the ranch. Ditto with tech writing -- I've met a lot of Microsoft tech writers who are smart and passionate and don't give a flying fig if they ever make partner, because *not everyone is trying to make partner*, happily. If everyone was trying to make partner we'd have a whole lot more buttheads than we do, and we don't sure don't need any more (as you've so handily demonstrated).

As for trying out a new job because it's interesting to you -- um, this is the one of Microsoft's selling points and it's touted at every recruiting event. Our company tries to differentiate itself by saying to employees "We have a whole lot of different things you can do here, you should try out things that really interest you." That's certainly what I've done, and it's one reason I've stayed here even as we've gone down the toilet in so many other ways.

Anonymous said...

>>There are people in this company who can do many things, and whose current position is the one that they choose to do at that time, for whatever reason they make that choice.

>Oh, I understand completely now. Microsoft is here to indulge you. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can just go hide in a documentation group and collect L61 salary and benefits. Like I said, if you could be an SDE, you'd be an SDE. Your rationalization of why anyone would intentionally choose a LIMITED career path when a career path that leads at least 10 levels higher (name a programmer/writer partner for me - can't? now name an SDE partner for me...) is just - well - sad...

Others have defended their reasons perfectly well. You categorically reject their reasons. Well, you can take your one-size-fits-all mentality and stuff it in a standard-sized airline seat. While you're at it, take your "you have to agree with me or you're stupid, because no reasonable person could possibly see it any other way" arrogance, and save it for dealing with five-year-olds. It might impress them, but we don't find it persuasive. All it does is annoy us, and it makes you look like a jerk.

Get over yourself. Nobody has to run their career the way you think they "should".

MSS

Anonymous said...

Note to Alex:

I made this mistake once. Let's do a bit of math, and you might see why your plan might be expensive.

You've got roughly $8 per share right now, but if you take it, you'll pay 35% incremental tax. If you wait, you'll pay... what was it, 15%? OK, so you save paying 20% of your profit in taxes. But all the stock has to do is go down just over 20% of your $8 profit, and you lose by waiting. A drop of $1.60, and you start to lose. I've made this mistake (not with Microsoft stock), and it was rather expensive.

If you want to get fancy, you can sell short to offset your long position, or even use options to protect yourself, but I am not competent to advise you on the details of those moves. All I would say is:

"When money is growing on trees, you've got to pick it."

MSS

Anonymous said...

Oh, I understand completely now. Microsoft is here to indulge you. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can

Don't really care about this thread but where in the employment agreement does it say that you have to live up to your potential, be all you can be, etc. You should be a motivational speaker and let everybody else do the jobs they want to do (and allow Microsoft to compensate them accordingly).

Anonymous said...

Oh, I understand completely now. Microsoft is here to indulge you. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can just go hide in a documentation group and collect L61 salary and benefits. Like I said, if you could be an SDE, you'd be an SDE. Your rationalization of why anyone would intentionally choose a LIMITED career path when a career path that leads at least 10 levels higher...

Blah, blah, blah, blah....

This poster is an excellent example of why, day after day, I thank my lucky stars that I don't have to work at Microsoft anymore. Arrogant, don't care about enjoying one's job but just care about the money and the power. "Get out of my way you little person while I step all over you on my way to the oh-so-important PARTNER-level top of the Microsoft heap."

Anonymous said...

I know this is off the current topic but I’m approaching my 5th anniversary and I feel it is time. If someone wanted to have a confidential discussion with Google, what is the best way to get started? Is it through the public web site or is there a “safe passage?”

Anonymous said...

All I want to add is this
Balmer is so washed up now it's unbelievable...he even contradicts Ray Ozzie on the basic technical aims of the company!
Seriously Ballmer is killing our company. The only reason that he's still around is that we're so risk averse now that any change is terrifying (work in Office 14 for a while...ooh...we're improving the ribbon...umm...great!).
We don't innovate any more, there's just too many execs who are eyeing their retirment and have huge investments in things not getting too much worse before they retire...

Anonymous said...

>Buying songs is better.

I don't buy over the internet because of what you say, but I think I would if I could keep what I downloaded on a subscription basis at a reasonable price. For example, when Napster was around, you could experiment and try different things, and a subscription model would do that, like downloading All Along the Watchtower or Knockin on Heaven's Door played by a dozen different bands, live versions etc. It is not worth it to buy that many versions unless the cost is really low. Hundreds of millions of songs, so little time.

Here are a couple of ZDNet links with opposing views on this.

'Dear Steve Jobs'
http://blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/?p=352

'Jobs dismisses iTune subscription model'
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=504

Anonymous said...

I am going to skip the stock prices since we all have not seen that move anywhere in years. Up a few down a few. I know I have sold quite a bit this year to diversify. I would have loved to keep it, but I keep hearing a little voice in the back of my mind yelling at me for opportunity loss. Oh well, I guess I didn't skip it altogether.

However, onto the real message. I really want to bite my tongue and skip the I told you so, but I can't. So, I remember telling you folks a while ago about how LisaB was not going to really make any difference and how nothing was really going to change. Oh my. Nothing has... I remember reading a rumor (Gossip) that MSFT was hiring that author/consultant who wrote that really good book "Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets" blah blah .... I was thinking if they did that what a sign. She might actually have done something. Unfortunately, the rumor was realized to be false within a couple of days, and darn it. I would still love some change. What are the odds we can get them to try bringing her on now.. Give her enough money and some free reign to fix the stupidity and she might be able to do something. She certainly isn't part of the small crowd that started MSFT. Someone might actually believe she was there to help. Anyone remember who that author was? She certainly had insight.

Hold on...


Okay back from my bookshelf. Yeah, Cynthia Shapiro. Can we get her onboard?

Anonymous..

Anonymous said...

The stock is going nowhere, closed under $30 again today. With the dog days of summer approaching fast, look for the stock to retreat to the $28-29 range, and pretty much stay there until Sept or so. If things go well, we can probably get lucky and close the year at about $31-32. Oh, and I get the feeling that the stock is a Ballmer comment away from dropping an instant 5%.

In other words, holding on to any shares for the next 6 months is pretty much dead money. Best case scenario, you're looking at about 5-8% gain from these levels by year's end. There are many, many better places to invest and get a better return than that.

I took the first step today and exchanged out of all my remaining 401K MSFT shares, about $18K or so, and put that into the new Vanguard Small Stock Index Fund. The only reason I still have some ESPP is due to tax considerations, and I'll continue to hold things there until the 18 month period.

I have no options left, I cashed out my remaining Feb and Aug grants, and put the proceeds in another index fund. Abou 6,000 shares which was my sign-on grant 7 years ago expired at the beginning of April with nothing to show for it. So overall, very disappointed that MSFT stock has been a downer entirely.

Other than that, life ain't too bad. I still pull-in about $95K, plus stock/bonus/benefits/etc, so to put things in perspective, I can't complain too much.

How can we get Ballmer out of here?

Anonymous said...

".. No need for you to stretch yourself and provide the most value to the company when you can just go hide in a documentation group .."

There are reasons to be a programmer/writer on our team, but the ability to hide isn't one of them. There are teams where this is true, just as it's true that there are teams on which an SDE can hide for at least a few months or more between release cycles, or in the middle of a long release cycle. One of the nice things about working in a big company is that there are many organizational cultures to choose from.

".. why anyone would intentionally choose a LIMITED career path when a career path that leads at least 10 levels higher.."

Still on that, are you? I suggest again that you check your facts. Also, as others have pointed out, not everyone thinks partner is the ultimate goal here. Some of us just want to contribute to making great products, whether or not our contributions are officially recognized beyond a ship it or two. It's called intrinsic satisfaction, and it's what a lot of us with passion for our careers beyond just advancement potential derive from our jobs here.

"You think Microsoft is here to serve you and your whims instead of you working as hard as you possibly can to provide the most value you can."

I'm intrigued that you assume a job that matches my "whims" is mutually exclusive with my "working as hard as I possibly can" and "providing the most value I can."

You're ambitious, right? Here's one of the secrets to the career success you apparently so desperately seek: you're in the position to live at least a minor miracle when ALL THREE are happening at once. Not just two, which is relatively easy to pull off. If you want the miracle, you need all three to be aligned: your passion, a great work ethic, and business savvy in choosing the right place and manner in which to use your talents so that you optimize for value-add. The ability and willingness to do #3 separates the men from the boys.

And to get this back on topic: I'm a shareholder because I see enough going right here to keep my stake in the company, and I'm sufficiently diversified that it doesn't feel like I'm putting all my eggs in a single basket. I still "believe." Or at least, I "hope."

jah jah jah said...

To the owner of mini-microsoft or any microsoft employees. Im an mba student studying change mgt and im using microsoft as a case study based a lot on the report which came out in Sept 2005 BusinessWeek "Troubling Exits at Microsoft". I need to ask a few questions to understand the situation from an internal point of view. This is 100% for educational purposes so if you can help then email me at victor.siow@gmail.com and I already have a small set of questions regarding leadership, culture, structure and employee motivation. If you are able to help a curious student to understand the "org pulse" then pls email me. Thanks alot and cheers!

ps. you can also skip approval of this msg and contact me directly. Thank you soooo much.

Anonymous said...

"If someone wanted to have a confidential discussion with Google, what is the best way to get started?"

Interviewing at Google is always confidential. The website is a fine option. You can also find a former colleague who works there and get them to submit your resume.

Speaking as a former > 10 year Microsoft employee who has been at Google for over a year, I find Google to be a much more interesting/fun place to work.

Anonymous said...

If someone wanted to have a confidential discussion with Google, what is the best way to get started?

I would suggest you worry less about confidentiality but focus more on your readiness. Get referred by a Googler will certainly boost your chance to get phone interview. Be strong on algorithm, coding, and even mathematics is a big advantage. Having Ph.D. degree and/or graduated from one of the top universities are a plus. Great GPA, SAT, GRE scores, winning competition awards, papers, publications, patents etc all help.

These criteria are probably not something you can improve much in short-term. However you can research on Google and digest papers at http://labs.google.com/people/jeff/.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ballmer recently did a interview with USA Today... the other day which he talked and down played the Apple IPhone. He commented on how it will not be that successful, not get a significant market share and essentially be a dud because it is pretty expensive. Hmmm.

Is $500 alot of money? Yes
Is $500 alot of money to spend on a "phone?" I would say Yes again.
And Mr. B's point is ???

People will line up to get one. Think about it people are already paying about $500 right now for there separated IPhone. Many people probably spend an average of say $200 on a Phone and $200 on a IPOD. That is $400 already so why not spend a bit more and get both in one device that also does alot more. And are people "really" willing to spend $500 on a phone? Of Course. Think about it, most people have and spend more time with their cell phone then anything else. You wake in the morning and get ready for work, head out and grab your cell phone; have your cell phone with you all day; come home and leave your cell phone on (again it is with you, though may be lying on the kitchen table but still with you); and most people have their cell phone next to bed side so essentially the cell phone is with you all the time (granted this may not be good, the matter of fact is that it is) So, yes many people will not have a problem spending that cash on something that is such a large part of them.

Speaking of high prices. IF Ballmer does not think people will spend that much on a device, why does MS make the XBOX 360. The system is $400 and then buy one game ( anywhere from $40-$60) with one accessory, right there you are over $500. So why does he think that people will be willing to part with $500 for a freaking gaming system and not for a mobile device? So come late June/ early July after the launch of the IPhone, it will be fun and entertaining to see Mr. B eat his moronic words.

Or maybe, he is downplaying the IPhone because he knows it is another thing that MS needs to catch up to and copy. And if MS thinks that everyone is gunning for them, that is an easy YES. The only difference this time around is that many of these other companies are actually fairing well competing with MS. Go look at the U.S. map, there is a bullseye on Redmond.

Anonymous said...

> You think Microsoft is here to serve you and your whims instead of you working as hard as you possibly can to provide the most value you can.

I've filed countless spec bugs, code bugs, SDK bugs (like, the product team forgot to ship a header or export a public API, whups), answered customer questions on MSDN forums, helped ISV partners with sample code, written SDK samples, conf. called with MVPs - oh, and wrote thousands of ref and overview pages. Sometimes the SDK writers are the only people in MSFT thinking about APIs from the customer's perspective. Sure, some MSFT SDK docs are pretty bad. In my experience the older APIs generally have worse documenation. Would you really want to code against our APIs using ONLY random junk you found on CodeProject?

Anonymous said...

Personally, the biggest surprise this week for me was that Windows CE only controls 5.6% of mobile phone market, with Linux controlling 16.7% and Symbian controlling a whopping 72.8%.

There's no question that iPhone will be breathtakingly successful in the market. The question is, who will it take its marketshare from - Symbian, Linux or WinCE. Since WinCE is smartphone only, I'd say WinCE is in grave danger.

Anonymous said...

He commented on how it will not be that successful, not get a significant market share and essentially be a dud because it is pretty expensive.

The phone is expensive, no doubt. If you want to find fault with it, that's definitely the way.

But it's also amazing. You take one look at that thing and you think, Wow: that's the future; that's where it's all headed; that makes sense.

What irks me is people who say "That's nothing new" or "You can already get one of those" or "What's the big deal" and then get into specific features vs. other smartphones or whatever. The same people usually then start grumbling about Apple's "marketing" or "slick design" or whatever, as if the iPhone is some kind of gimmick or hoax.

It's like they're saying, "There's absolutely nothing to see here, except, of course, Apple's superior hardware and software." It's maddening, like someone looking at a Porsche and saying "Okay, it's faster...but so what? Nobody needs that."

Paulsc said...

While I believe the upcoming Apple iPhone will be a hit with those consumers willing to pay upwards of $500 for the latest device, it will not be real competition for Windows Mobile because those two platforms are going after different types of customers.

Windows Mobile phones are oriented far more towards enterprise customers who need to stay on the pulse of business. The main value of Windows Mobile is business connectivity through Microsoft Exchange. Windows Mobile's main competition comes from RIM and the Blackberry, not the iPhone.

The iPhone is Apple's first attempt to move its computer brand into the mobile phone space and I believe the iPhone's main competitor is Nokia, not Microsoft.

SteveB is quite correct when he predicts that the iPhone will not achieve significant market share, particulary because it is limited to a single wireless operator in the USA.

The iPhone will be cool, no doubt about it, but it will be expensive compared to the competition and only a small percentage of people care about the latest mobile fashion.

Don't forget that the killer application on a phone is the ability to make and receive calls and the ability to communicate via email and instant messaging. The open platform of Windows Mobile gives corporate application developers the ability to easily move their line of business apps into the mobile space. You won't be able to do that with the iPhone.

James said...

Silverlight - Microsoft's last, best hope. At least we know where Ray Ozzie has been. Meanwhile, coming soon, by popular demand - Ubuntu but Dell recommends Microsoft Windows Vista.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the killer application on a phone is the ability to make and receive calls and the ability to communicate via email and instant messaging. The open platform of Windows Mobile gives corporate application developers the ability to easily move their line of business apps into the mobile space. You won't be able to do that with the iPhone.

Boy are you in for a shock!

First, many businesses won't even allow third-party applications to be installed on smartphones, due to security concerns. So, openness really isn't an issue. (Besides, calling anything from Microsoft "open" is a stretch to say the least.)

Second, you talk about the smartphone killer app being three things: make/receive calls, send/receive e-mail, and send/receive IMs. The iPhone does all of these things. And, based on how well Apple has done with form/function in the past, the iPhone will probably do these three things better than any other smartphone released so far.

All I can say is, if I was in the mobile industry right now (either as device manufacturer, software developer, or service provider), I'd be scared.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe, he is downplaying the IPhone because he knows it is another thing that MS needs to catch up to and copy.

What's sad is that MS has been working on the smartphone concept for so much longer than Apple and will still have to struggle to catch up. I wonder if it's possible at all. Everything about Windows Mobile is slow, ugly, and unstable. The people I know with WM phones use them grudgingly because of exchange compatibility. They're constantly complaining about crashes, hangs, missed calls, etc.

Anonymous said...

'And I'm NOt a Microsoft Shareholder Because...?'

Helped a friend buy a new HP Vista notebook and HP Photosmart all in one printer at Staples (about $1100 for the computer, $260 for the printer).

The printer selected by the salesman only had an XP software disk with the drivers which was discovered after taking the unit home and starting it up.

The printer drivers were on the Vista computer but could not install the software for everything else (fax, scanner, copier, printer).

Staples manager said we had to contact hp.

Hp (india) said we had to download 150 megabyte file off the internet. No disk was available from hp.

Took the computer back to Staples. Took the priter back to Staples

Obtained refund.

Bought a different brand XP based notebook that was still in stock.

Called my broker, dumped all HP and Microsoft stock--made sure I had nothing with Staples either.

Took hand out and lifted middle finger at Microsoft for not using the old XP drivers.

Anonymous said...

iPod started out at $399 and 5GB HD. It's grown both upward and downward since then.

iPhone is starting out at $499 and 4GB solid state (with iPod and phone capabilities in one device).

Anyone expect it to stay at that capacity and price point forever? Apple runs a pipelined operation, you can bet as soon as the hardware starts rolling off the line, they'll be onto the Version-2 effort.

Skate to where the puck is going.

Anonymous said...

Took hand out and lifted middle finger at Microsoft for not using the old XP drivers.

Person 1: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they break compatibility to improve security and reliability.

Person 2: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they keep everything backwards compatibility, which limits their ability to innovate.

Whatever.

Anonymous said...

I'm a relatively new MSFT employee (summer 2005) and it's true that MSFT has underperformed the market, especially since late 2002.

However, there have been some positive signs in the past year, including a 35% rally from summer 2006 to winter 2006. For a large-cap stock like Microsoft, that's pretty good.

In addition, there have been other positive signs that are typically good for stocks:

(1) Companies that buy back their shares is usually a good sign. Microsoft has done this.

(2) Companies that invest in R&D are usually rewarded. Microsoft is doing this as well.

On the other hand, earnings growth (earnings per share) and income growth are two factors that drive stock appreciation. As a large cap stock with huge revenue streams in Windows and Office where the market is saturated, we probably aren't going to see much growth there. If EPS growth averages 10% per year, then 10% stock appreciation would probably be what we can expect on the market. I don't expect to get rich of of shares in the company but at least I won't go bankrupt.

Limulus said...

James wrote: "Meanwhile, coming soon, by popular demand - Ubuntu but Dell recommends Microsoft Windows Vista."

Isn't the "[OEM] recommends Windows [version]" thing because MS pays them a fee to say that?

Anyway, MS bigwigs should be terrified of the crack in the dam that this represents.

A little over nine months ago, on http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/07/good-bad-and-unknown-links.html I replied to a mention of Ubuntu in the article:

"I have installed Ubuntu on (formerly) Windows machines for people who are not very computer literate and they have no problem running it; the main problem for widespread Linux adoption as far as I can tell is that "everyday folk" do not install operating systems :) they come preinstalled and preconfigured 'free' when they buy a computer ;) Thus the real competition will come when you can buy computers with Linux preinstalled and preconfigured from well-known manufacturers and actually see a difference is the sticker price compared to Windows models..."

That day is now almost here.

According to Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu bigwig ;) the Ubuntu userbase *doubles* with each release (which is every six months). The Dell announcement is not going to hurt that ;)

I can easily see Ubuntu following the same path that Firefox did... Note that in Europe, Firefox is rapidly approaching majority usage in some countries.

Anonymous said...

Everything about Windows Mobile is slow, ugly, and unstable.

It answers phone calls and sends and receives email dependably. Not so attractive to teens but very attractive to enterprise customers. Part of the objective is to get platforms and devices networked in a seamless, dependable way. Therein lies the beauty.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone expect it to stay at that capacity and price point forever? Apple runs a pipelined operation, you can bet as soon as the hardware starts rolling off the line, they'll be onto the Version-2 effort."

Why, thank you, Captain Obvious! Whatever would we do without your superhuman powers of observation?

Seriously, if you think that there's anybody, even MS, that doesn't do this, you must live under a rock.

Anonymous said...

Person 1: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they break compatibility to improve security and reliability.

Person 2: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they keep everything backwards compatibility, which limits their ability to innovate.


Yeah, exactly! Fix it!

Do both. Stop whining and fix the problems. A company so filled with genius and well-paid visionaries and brilliant coders should be able to meet this kind of challenge.

You can't have it both ways. If Microsoft is so great, then this is where you prove it: by accomplishing difficult tasks. It's not our fault (Windows customers) for asking so much; it's your role to deliver products that work the way you say they're going to. And if these difficult contradictory demands (backwards compatible and innovative at the same time, gasp) are too much for Microsoft, then stop insisting that your products deserve a "Wow!" response.

You're the ones insisting you're so great at software. Prove it! Sorry for the vitriol but blaming customers is a very easy way to lose their good faith in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

Everything about Windows Mobile is slow, ugly, and unstable.

It answers phone calls and sends and receives email dependably.


No, in fact, it doesn't. Did you read the rest of my comment? It crashes, hangs, and misses calls all the time. If you take these phones back to Cingular or Verizon they say, "Yeah, this happens to everybody. Run Task Manager as much as you can and close anything you're not using. That's the best we can do. Sorry." What other operating system behaves like this?!

When Longhorn got started, Bill loved to talk about "software as a service" and about how software should be as reliable as our power and phone services. Maybe the only way he could think to accomplish this was to decrease the reliability of our phone service.

Anonymous said...

>"Person 1: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they break compatibility to improve security and reliability.

Person 2: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they keep everything backwards compatibility, which limits their ability to innovate.

Whatever."

Compatibility has nothing to do with security and reliability

Backward compatibility has nothing to do with innovation.

Legacy data is the collective sum of users history and therefore must be backwards compatible, just as books are backward compatible.

One day you softies will wake up and realize that security cannot be handled in software but is a hardware thing and therefore will ease your obligations to secure machines as tightly and insanely as you are.

Time to start over with your kazillion lines of code and use a clean slate.

Also, copying Apple and Adobe in file conventions and sorting conventions is not necessarily a good thing. Folders and files are actually a very good way to manage data for the user.

Anonymous said...

Person 1: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they break compatibility to improve security and reliability.

Person 2: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they keep everything backwards compatibility, which limits their ability to innovate.

Whatever.


Yeah, whatever. Customer has crappy experience with brand new Microsoft product, but it's someone else's fault.

The Longhorn Driver Model switch was a grade-A eff-up.

Anonymous said...

>>"Person 1: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they break compatibility to improve security and reliability.

Person 2: Waah!!! Windows sucks because they keep everything backwards compatibility, which limits their ability to innovate.

Whatever."

>Compatibility has nothing to do with security and reliability

Yes, it does. The problem is that Microsoft has some features that are security bugs. The features themselves are security bugs. ActiveX is one great example.

Now, Microsoft's approach in the past has been to put bandaids around the bullet hole, and it hasn't really worked. So they decided to address the real problem. But the problem is also a feature, and they can't address the security issues without affecting backward compatibility.

Once you widely ship something that you never should have done, it's a long, painful road back...

MSS

Anonymous said...

"security cannot be handled in software". Huh? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

You can contact Google recruiters in Kirkland at 425-739-5600. They have recruiters dedicated to hiring engineers to work in Kirkland on Ads, Search, Talk, Pack, Maps, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of this Wal-mart KT guy, I read in the WSJ that he's getting paid $40M.

Someone mentioned cost cutting, but he has done zil. That SMSG organization is still bloated and getting fatter.

Another $40M wasted.

Anonymous said...

"That SMSG organization is still bloated and getting fatter."

You're not kidding. They just created another layer of management, ‘Sales Director,’ between the front line managers and the GM’s. I guess that we were running out of spots for unqualified Blue hires.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of SMSG, I got wind the other day that SMSGR (The readiness/training arm) is paying some vendor god know how much $ to develop a training delivery interface in Flash. Even though Microsoft now has its own technology –Silverlight - to use in place of Flash. Sure, it’s in beta but what better way to get on the band wagon than to start developing using Silverlight now internally. ButFlash, now? Talk about pissing $ away not to mention the stance of not showcasing and embracing our own technologies over the “competitions” or being a leader in a new, emerging, and exciting product. What could possibly justify such a decision to use Flash unless the leadership is clueless about our own technologies and capabilities? Nothing against Flash, but come on.

Anonymous said...

>"security cannot be handled in software". Huh? Please explain.

Thousands of people writing thousands of patches and so little time. It is a never ending battle. It is like buying a car, and having something go wrong with it every five feet, so you have hire thousands of technicians to keep it running while you drive to work.

Software can't protect or plug anything. Period. DRM, WGA, Security Patch Critical all bullshit. You are only making your customer's lives absolutely miserable, protecting us from ourselves I guess.

Hardware on the other hand can be built in ways to eliminate most security issues. Dumb routers for example, or firmware, and so on. Software should be written to support protective hardware which cannot be corrupted or hacked. The problem is you are at a software company and up a tree without a ladder.. and some lumber hack is down there with a 40 inch bar chainsaw hacking away. Has anybody calculated the cost of security for software?

Anonymous said...

I said >Compatibility has nothing to do with security and reliability

You said >Yes, it does. The problem is that Microsoft has some features that are security bugs.

Yes yes, we all know the story of old code an open invitation to bad things, but that has nothing to do with accessing my data.

Let me explain. I have to keep all my old OS's and old machines so I can access ancient files and data going back many many years. It would be easier and possible with the huge hard drives we have these days to just compartmentalize the game. You did it last year with the unbreakable folder, but everybody panicked and it was dumped. An OS needs to have hardlocked compartments that are designed to access and store legacy data without contaminating the `safe and secure' OS.

I have thought about getting Parallels and loading all the legacy OS's to run independent, but that would be quite a bit of work to get it all to work together considering how often I have to access the legacy data, which happens but not often.

Anonymous said...

Why am I a shareholder?

Greed.

As a rapacious capitalist, I simply can not resist backing up the truck on what is a great value play. Who would have thought one of the great growth stocks would turn into one of the great all-time value plays.

I know what you are thinking, “This guy is nuts”. And you might be right. But before you stop reading this, give me a chance to explain.

Warren Buffet is undoubtedly one of the all time great value investors. In The Warren Buffet Way by Robert G. Hagstrom is a great read into the approach used by the Oracle of Omaha. In the book, Hagstrom describes the valuation technique used by Mr. Buffet to determine value. The method looks at cash generated by the business, and uses this to compute future cost of capital, and compares this to the risk free return on capital. In short, what an investor would be willing to pay for a risk free return over a ten year period.

Applying Mr. Buffet’s approach, I find Microsoft currently priced at a discount of between 30-50%. Current price of MSFT using this approach is between $39 - $45/ share.

Anonymous said...

knock knock $31.

next stop $32 !!!

I bought MSFT at $21.5 last year. Hey, its a better investment than GOOG for the same period. Almost 50% so far...

i'm greedy, i want more.

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